In 2021, Rwanda’s National Statelessness Taskforce and UNHCR will prioritise the identification of statelessness persons and those with undetermined nationality living in Rwanda.
By Eugene Sibomana and Johanna Seidl
“Consider just one minute. What would be like, if a country you’re born in and have lived your whole life didn’t consider you as a citizen? No country did. You belonged Nowhere,” challenged Cate Blanchett, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. “That’s the shocking reality for millions of people who have no nationality. They’re stateless.”
In Rwanda, as in many other countries around the world, the exact number of stateless persons and those at risk of statelessness is unknown. In practice, being stateless can have significant consequences for those affected, as they often cannot access a wide range of essential services, including registering the birth of their children, getting married, owning land, or accessing health services, education, and employment.
Today, as the UN Refugee Agency marks the sixth anniversary of the #IBelong Campaign, aimed at ending statelessness by 2024, UNHCR welcomes the significant efforts made by the Government of Rwanda towards its commitments made at the High-Level Segment on Statelessness in 2019. This included a pledge to grant or confirm the nationality of all stateless persons and their descendants living on the Rwanda territory.
Since the High-Level Segment, a National Statelessness Taskforce has been established and a National Action Plan 2020-2024 has been developed, that will serve as a roadmap for the eradication of statelessness in Rwanda by 2024.
“The government deserves recognition for their admirable policies and resolve to eliminate statelessness on Rwandan territory. We are optimistic that the pathway established so far, will lead to nationality for all stateless individuals and their descendants residing in the country,”’ said Ahmed Baba Fall, UNHCR’s Representative to Rwanda.
Beginning next year, the Rwanda National Statelessness Taskforce together with the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, will begin the first step in the process to conduct identification of stateless persons and those with undetermined nationality.