“Invisible.” “Excluded.” “Worthless.” These are just a few of the words stateless people often use to describe themselves. Invisible—the topic of statelessness and stateless people themselves play virtually no role in public discussion. This means that their problems go unheard and remain unresolved. Excluded—stateless people are regarded as not belonging to the societies they live in. This means that they are seen as different or foreign. Worthless—without education and a livelihood it is often difficult to make a meaningful contribution to society.
It is difficult to determine how many people are stateless worldwide because the data are so incomplete. Germany also has no specific procedure for determining the extent of statelessness. In its October 2019 mid-term report, the IBelong Campaign to end statelessness—launched by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in November 2014—called for improvements to the data situation. The campaign aims to identify and protect stateless people by ending their current statelessness status and preventing new cases from arising.
This Atlas of the Stateless not only aims to make this invisible issue more visible, but also to show how solutions are possible for each of the situations and problems it presents. We have not attempted to be comprehensive in our coverage. Rather, we hope to draw attention to the many facets of this diverse topic. People become stateless for many different reasons: deprivation of citizenship, flight or expulsion, religious discrimination, or the consequences of a nomadic way of life. The effects on those affected are as varied as they are far-reaching. Stateless people are especially vulnerable because no state protects them, and they lack access to basic rights.