UNHCR Campaign to End Statelessness Update Jan – Mar 2020

Published: 22/Avr/2020
Source: UNHCR


Mobilizing governments and civil society

From 2 to 5 March, in Rubavu, Rwanda, UNHCR and the newly established Government Taskforce on Statelessness convened to discuss statelessness eradication and methodologies to identify stateless persons. In line with the pledges made by the Government of Rwanda at the High-Level Segment on Statelessness in October 2019, consensus was reached to draft a National Plan of Action to eradicate statelessness in Rwanda. Once complete, it will serve as a national strategy for the four remaining years of the #IBelong Campaign.

On 26 and 27 February, in Kismayo, Somalia, UNHCR organized a training on international protection for Government officials from Jubaland. Participants were briefed on statelessness issues in the region and the risk of statelessness due to gender discrimination
in the nationality law, as well as the pledges the Government of Somalia submitted in the context of the High-Level Segment on Statelessness. The training helped to raise awareness and build support for the implementation of Somalia’s pledge to accede to the two UN Statelessness Conventions.

In South Africa, the organization Lawyers for Human Rights successfully advocated for the inclusion of statelessness as a central pillar in the National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (NAP). On 28 January, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development held its first national consultative workshop and announced that the resolution of statelessness and participation in the #IBelong Campaign would form part of the implementation roadmap for the NAP.

On 13 February, the Constitutional Court of South Africa heard a case involving five persons at risk of statelessness who were retroactively deprived of their nationality following amendments to the Citizenship Act in 2013. The Government holds the view that based on the 2013 amendments, persons born before 2013 to South African parents outside the country are no longer to be regarded as South African nationals. The Constitutional Court must now decide whether it will uphold the judgment of the High Court, which decided the applicants are entitled to citizenship. The case, brought by the organization Lawyers for Human Rights, is the first of its kind before the Constitutional Court and should help bring clarity to many children of South Africans who were born in exile during Apartheid.

In January and February, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, visited Burkina-Faso and Niger and endorsed the UNHCR protection strategy for the Sahel crisis; the strategy prioritizes the provision of nationality and identification documents
as a means to prevent statelessness and promotes access to services.

On 7 January, the Government of Côte d’Ivoire adopted its National Action Plan against Statelessness (NAP), in accordance with its pledges submitted at the High-Level Segment on Statelessness and its commitments under the 2015 Abidjan Declaration. The NAP builds on the conclusions of the statelessness mapping exercise conducted in 2018 and 2019, according to which the total number of stateless persons and persons at risk of statelessness in the country (including those identified as at low risk, medium risk, or high risk) stands at 1,656,330, or 6.57% of the entire population.

On 17 and 18 December 2019, in Nairobi, Kenya, a regional childhood statelessness advocacy workshop for civil society organizations was organized under the auspices of the UNHCR-UNICEF Coalition on Every Child’s Right to a Nationality. A total of 30 members of civil society organizations from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda attended the workshop, which aimed at strengthening the engagement of these
organizations in advocacy campaigns to support law reform in the three countries. The workshop resulted in ten civil society organizations formalizing their membership to the UNHCR-UNICEF Coalition, as well as the development of draft advocacy strategies which are expected to be finalized soon.


Implementation of the Global Action Plan

In line with Action 7, Ensure birth registration for the prevention of statelessness, on 10 March, the Government of Tanzania agreed to start issuing birth certificates to refugee children born in Nduta Camp following advocacy by UNHCR. The exercise may be extended to Mtendeli and Nyarugusu refugee camps in the near future.


Regarding Action 7, in Niger, UNHCR and the telecom company Orange partnered to send sensitization text messages on statelessness and the importance of birth registration in six local languages, reaching a total of 138,983 persons across the country and targeting areas where risks of statelessness are most prevalent.

In line with both Action 7 and Action 8, Issue nationality documentation to those with entitlement to it, with support and encouragement from UNHCR, the Government of Cameroon issued nationality certificates to 17 IDPs from the north-west region where violence has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, as well as 935 birth certificates to children in three regions facing conflicts, including to 73 orphans who were internally displaced.

In line with Action 8, Issue nationality documentation to those with entitlement to it, from December 2019 to March, the Government of Burkina Faso issued 40,000 identification documents to displaced populations and host communities in the center-north and south-west regions with the support of UNHCR. These efforts were aimed at addressing risks of statelessness in the context of the ongoing security and humanitarian crisis facing Burkina Faso and the entire Sahel region.

Media Impact of the Campaign

The 5th anniversary of the Abidjan Declaration attracted extensive media attention. A story on statelessness in West Africa was published by the BBC. A press release was issued by UNHCR, highlighting progress and challenges in the fight against statelessness in the region. In Côte d’Ivoire, UNHCR and the Minister of Justice issued a joint declaration on progress towards eradication of statelessness in Côte d’Ivoire.

Download full report: https://www.refworld.org/docid/5e9578034.html


Themes: Apatridie, Cartes d’identité et passeports, Enregistrement des naissances
Regions: Tanzanie, International, Burkina Faso, Afrique du Sud, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Somalie, Cameroun, Niger
Year: 2020