Source: Zambia News and Information Service (ZANIS)
By Mathews Musukwa
Zambia has joined the rest of the world in a campaign to end statelessness through a decade of Global Action Plan to End Statelessness.
In Zambia, an undisclosed number of persons mostly migrants, refugees and persons of concern are at high risk of being declared stateless because some of them do not have documentation to prove their nationality.
Commissioner for Refugees at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Abdon Mawere disclosed that Zambia has not declared any one stateless but some groups of people risk being stateless if they do not make efforts to acquire national documentation which include the National Registration Card-NRC, citizenship or acquire the status of a refugee.
The Zambian Government through the Department of National Registration, Passport and Citizenship and the Office of the Commissioner for Refugees are responsible for issuance of national documentations.
Mr. Mawere confirmed that some immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers risk becoming stateless because they illegally enter the country with no documentation and hide from the authority for unknown reasons. He observed that such individuals risk being declared stateless.
“We did a study last year together with the UNHCR and the University of Zambia on the prevalence and concept of statelessness and the study found out that we did not have any case of stateless, but there are populations who are at risk of becoming stateless.
“These include refugees and migrants who come into the country and may not have access to national documentation because they hide from the authorities,” Mr. Mawere explained.
“Whatever the cause, statelessness has serious consequences for people in almost every country and in all regions of the world. Stateless persons are often denied enjoyment of a range of rights such as identity documents, employment, education and health services,” he added.
“We are joining the whole world in a campaign to end statelessness. The campaign is referred to as ‘I belong’ campaign which was launched by UNHCR in 2014. This campaign is aimed at addressing statelessness,” the Zambia Commissioner for Refugee reiterated.
And recently, Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo echoed Zambia’s commitment at the 69th Session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland, to acceding to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
Mr. Kampyongo told the Executive Committee that his Ministry has been directed by Parliament to take a proposal before Cabinet to begin the process which is expected to be done before the end of 2018.
“Chairperson, as we draw closer to the Statelessness event in 2019, Zambia wishes to reiterate her pledge to accede to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. In this regard, Parliament has directed my Ministry to bring a proposal before Cabinet to begin the process. This will be done before the end of 2018,”stated Mr. Kampyongo.
“Let me conclude, Chairperson, by reaffirming my Government’s firm commitment to maintaining an open border asylum policy and fulfilling our obligations to the international community to offer refuge and protection to all who need it.”
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