UNHCR and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are holding this week a ministerial conference to end statelessness in West Africa – the first of its kind on the African continent. The event takes place tomorrow (25 February) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and aims at finding regional solutions to prevent, reduce and ultimately eliminate statelessness in the sub-region.
It is preceded on 23 and 24 February by two days of high-level level technical debates among experts in the field of nationality and statelessness.
More than 750,000 people do not have a nationality or are at risk of becoming stateless in West Africa. “These are estimates, however, mostly based on figures released by Côte d’Ivoire” says Emmanuelle Mitte, UNHCR expert on statelessness in West Africa. “As other countries do not yet have mechanisms in place to capture data on statelessness, the information for West Africa is not complete, but the problem persists. We believe that statelessness could affect hundreds of thousands more in the region”.