Highlights from Africa:
- On 25 and 26 October, UNHCR organized the annual “Nationality and Statelessness Moot Court Competition and Conference” in Mutare, Zimbabwe. The competition and conference aims to raise awareness and strengthen knowledge on nationality and statelessness among future lawyers, leaders and decision-makers.
- From 29 October to 3 November, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the African Union’s Specialised Technical Committee (AUSTC) on Migration, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons adopted the draft Protocol on the Specific Aspects on the Right to a Nationality and the Eradication of Statelessness in Africa. It will next be reviewed by the AU STC on Legal Affairs, prior to its adoption and ratification by States.
- On 28 November, UNHCR in South Sudan convened a roundtable discussion on statelessness with government officials, UN agencies and civil society in order to move towards the development of a National Action Plan on Statelessness. The event resulted in an agreement on an outline of the National Action Plan, which includes selected priority actions from the Global Action Plan to End Statelessness relevant to the South Sudanese context.
- From 28 to 30 November, UNHCR and the Government of South Africa convened a regional Expert Meeting near Johannesburg on “The Eradication of Statelessness in the SADC Region”. The meeting gathered representatives from SADC, civil society, and all SADC member States. Building on the 2017 Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa Ministerial recommendations, participants discussed best practices and challenges in the region, and reviewed a draft declaration and action plan on statelessness that will be submitted to governments and SADC for further consideration.
- On December 1, the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights, in partnership with UN Women and UNHCR, convened a round table on Gender and Nationality in South Africa. The round table gathered representatives of governments and civil society from Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Participants reviewed international and regional standards, discussed best practices, and developed recommendations on how to ensure gender equality in nationality laws.
- On 11 and 12 December, UNHCR and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) hosted an inaugural strategic workshop on statelessness and legal identity documentation in N’Djamena, Chad, with representatives from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of Congo and São Tomé and Príncipe. The event boosted engagement on the #IBelong Campaign in the region ahead of the 2019 High-Level Event on Statelessness.
- On Action 2 (Ensure that no child is born stateless), in October, a judge in the north of Côte d’Ivoire granted nationality to three foundlings on the basis of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, to which the country acceded in 2013. Two more foundlings are expected to obtain their nationality certificates before the end of the year. This is a remarkable achievement, as it is the first judicial decision on behalf of foundlings, one of the main profiles of stateless persons in Côte d’Ivoire.
- In line with Actions 2, 3 (Remove gender discrimination from nationality laws), 4 (Prevent denial, loss or deprivation of nationality on discriminatory grounds) and 5 (Prevent statelessness in cases of state succession), the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) issued a decision on the case of Benjamin v. Government of Sudan in November, concerning a child of mixed Sudanese and South Sudanese origin. The ACERWC recommended that Sudan grant Ms. Benjamin nationality on the basis that the child would otherwise remain stateless, and should take a similar approach in other such cases. The Committee further recommended reforms to guarantee gender equal nationality rights and to end discrimination against children of South Sudanese origin.
- In line with Actions 3, 4 and 5, the Sudanese National Assembly approved the Nationality Act (Amendment) Bill 2018, which will restore Sudanese nationality to individuals of South Sudanese origin who have resided in the Northern parts of Sudan since 1924. The bill also allows Sudanese mothers to confer Sudanese nationality to their children in cases where the father is South Sudanese. The new bill will take effect after it is signed by the President of the Republic of the Sudan.
- With regard to Action 7 (Ensure birth registration for the prevention of statelessness), from 20 November to 15 December, UNHCR supported the Government of Burkina Faso in the issuance of birth registration certificates to persons in border regions. From 4 to 13 December, UNHCR will support the Government in issuing 12,000 birth certificates in two border regions.
- Similarly, from June to November, UNHCR supported the Government of Côte d’Ivoire in issuing approximately 400,000 birth certificates to children at risk of statelessness. The birth certificates will allow the children to sit for their primary school exams and grant them access to secondary education.
- In Chad, as of November, the Directorate of Political Affairs and Civil Status has issued approximately 35,000 birth certificates for children of refugees and refugee-hosting communities at risk of statelessness. The project started in March 2018 and is being implemented in ten provinces.
- In September, UNHCR published a study on Statelessness and Citizenship in the East African Community. The report addresses the intertwined issues of belonging, identity, nationality, migration and the legacy of colonialism in the region, and sets out clearly what States and others can do to support the eradication of statelessness in East Africa.
- In Chad, UNHCR and the Ministry of Territorial Administration, Local Governance and Public Security, held an event in the Lake Chad region to shed light on the situation of undocumented populations in the area. An exhibition on statelessness and nationality was also launched in the Lake region.
- In Kenya, UNHCR held a reception on 28 November that gathered stateless persons and Government representatives. The Director of Immigration Services declared the Government’s commitment to regularizing the status of the Shona and persons of Burundian and Rwandan descent and announced the creation of a taskforce to this end. The National Bureau of Statistics announced that it would gather official data on statelessness as part of Kenya’s population and housing census which is scheduled for August 2019.
- In Niamey, Niger, UNHCR organized a sensitization campaign on 22 and 23 November to promote birth registration and documentation to celebrate the the #IBelong Campaign anniversary.
- From 9 to 14 November, a team of journalists trained on statelessness by UNHCR in the Republic of Congo rolled out a campaign in Gamboma to raise awareness on the importance of birth registration. Over 500 persons were reached through a carnival event, a radio show, and awareness raising activities held with the public.
- On 5 December 2018, a TV show on statelessness was launched on national television in Burkina Faso.
Available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/5c1783737.html