UNHCR Campaign to End Statelessness Update July-Sept 2021

Published: 21/Oct/2021
Source: UNHCR

Extracts relevant to Africa:

Mobilizing governments and civil society

On 20 August, in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UNHCR and the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region convened a workshop to take stock of progress on the implementation of pledges made by the Government at the 2019 High-Level Segment on Statelessness. The workshop resulted in the adoption of a roadmap for pledge implementation and the establishment of a taskforce to follow up on the commitments.

On 29 and 30 July, in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Interinstitutional Technical Committee for the Fight against Statelessness and UNHCR conducted a training workshop on statelessness for members of the Parliamentary Liaison Office of the NGO, the Episcopal Conference of Congo. This will enable the Episcopal Conference to support advocacy efforts for the country’s accession to the UN Statelessness Conventions. From 7 to 9 September, UNHCR and the Interinstitutional Technical Committee for the Fight against Statelessness hosted a workshop to develop and validate a roadmap to end statelessness in the Kasai provinces together with local political, administrative, and civil society actors. The roadmap focuses on four pillars: (1) advocacy for provincial ownership of efforts to address statelessness; (2) improving the governance of civil registration; (3) improving data collection on statelessness to inform policymaking on civil registration and documentation; and (4) awareness raising among the public on risks of statelessness.

On 7 July, in Madagascar, the NGO Focus Development Association (FDA) organized a meeting with the National Assembly and its Secretary General which led to the development of a strategic action plan for the adoption of a new nationality bill. The nationality bill provides for the grant of Malagasy nationality to children born in Madagascar who would otherwise be stateless and the elimination of discriminatory provisions on the grounds of gender and disability amongst others. As part of this action plan, FDA held a briefing with the President of the Senate’s Legal Commission in Mahajanga on 31 July for the Senate to advance the bill with a  view to its adoption.

In July, in Zambia, under the banner of the UNHCR-UNICEF Coalition on Every Child’s Right to a Nationality, the two UN Agencies held a series of meetings to develop a new two-year joint strategy to end childhood statelessness in Zambia. As part of the strategy, the two organizations will join forces to advocate for the inclusion of safeguards in the nationality law to prevent childhood statelessness and to strengthen birth registration in the country.

On 29 July, in South Africa, the NGOs Lawyers for Human Rights and Jesuit Refugee Services launched a petition in support of their joint advocacy campaign titled “This is Home”. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness on the issues faced by migrant children in securing documentation and citizenship in South Africa. The petition and signatures will be delivered to the Portfolio Committee of the Parliament.

At the end of August, in Uganda, UNHCR facilitated two online statelessness trainings for officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs aimed at raising awareness of statelessness and solutions to address the problem, with a particular focus on the pledges delivered by the Government at the 2019 High-Level Segment on Statelessness.

On 28 September, in Morocco, UNHCR and the Moroccan Human Rights Organization convened an event to sensitize civil status officers on the importance of birth registration for the prevention of statelessness.

Implementation of the Global Action Plan

In line with Action 1, Resolve existing major situations of statelessness, on 2 September, the Kenyan national taskforce on statelessness organized a ceremony during which 52 stateless persons of Asian descent were granted citizenship certificates. During the ceremony, Kenya’s Director-General of Immigration reiterated the Government’s commitment to resolve statelessness. There were also positive developments with regards to the stateless persons of Pemba descent. On 10  August, the departmental Committee on Administration and National Security of Kenya issued a report recommending the Government to initiate a process to recognize this group as citizens. The report follows a petition submitted to the National Assembly in September 2020 which called on the government to resolve the statelessness situation of this group.

On 28 July, Rwanda published a new nationality law which provides for facilitated naturalization for stateless persons and fulfils one of Rwanda’s pledges at UNHCR’s 2019 High-Level Segment on Statelessness.

With regard to Action 7, Ensure birth registration for the prevention of statelessness, from 17 – 19 August in Nigeria, UNHCR, the National Population Commission and the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons conducted a birth registration exercise for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in three settlements in Abuja. A total of 1,516 IDP children were registered and issued with birth certificates during the three-day exercise. The IDPs were displaced from Northeast Nigeria during the Islamist insurgency and had either lost the certificates or had never registered their children’s births. The exercise supports the government’s pledge delivered at the 2019 High-Level Segment on Statelessness to scale-up the issuance of birth registration to IDPs, refugees and returnees. Also in Nigeria, since the beginning of 2021, 20,731 birth certificates have been issued to internally displaced children and 20,000 certificates of indigeneity have been delivered to IDPs as part of UNHCR’s “access to legal documentation” project in Borno state. UNHCR worked closely with local authorities to achieve this result.

From 13 to 19 July, UNHCR and the Office of the Commissioner for Refugees in Zambia conducted a three-day civil documentation drive in Mantapala refugee settlement, which resulted in the issuance of 504 birth notices. The information will be submitted to Lusaka Central Registration Office for the issuance of birth certificates.

In line with Action 7 and Action 8, Issue nationality documentation to those with entitlement to it, from July to September, in Mozambique, the Catholic University of Mozambique assisted 5,756 displaced and host communities in Cabo Delgado to obtain birth certificates and identity documents through its mobile legal clinics.  To date, 13,412 people have received legal assistance since the start of the project in June 2021.

In line with Action 8, the Government of Mauritania has made progress on its pledges related to the issuance of documentation submitted at the 2019 High-Level Segment on Statelessness and the Global Refugee Forum. Regional authorities, together with UNHCR, the national civil registry agency and the National Commission on Human Rights have recently launched a review of the situation of 11,000 individuals in Mbera camp whose  refugee status was inactivated when it was found that they had Mauritanian nationality but who regardless are experiencing difficulties in accessing civil registration as nationals.

In line with Action 9, Accede to the UN Statelessness Conventions, on 14 July, Togo acceded to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Togo’s accession to these two Conventions will facilitate the ongoing reform of its nationality law, with a view to eliminating discrimination and establishing gender equality in relation to nationality acquisition.

In Zimbabwe, the National Statistics Agency announced that questions on access to documentation and citizenship will be included in the 2022 census to improve data on statelessness. This is an important step as there is currently no official data on the number of people who are stateless or at risk of statelessness in the country.

Download full report from Refworld: https://www.refworld.org/docid/616ff7a34.html

Themes: Acquisition par les enfants, Apatridie, Enregistrement des naissances, Naturalisation et le mariage
Regions: Zambie, International, Afrique du Sud, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, Togo, Rwanda, République Démocratique du Congo, Ouganda, Madagascar, Mauritanie, Mozambique, Maroc
Year: 2021