UNHCR Campaign to End Statelessness Update April-June 2020

Published: 21/Jul/2020
Source: UNHCR

Extracts related to Africa:

Mobilizing governments and civil society

In April and May in Somalia, UNHCR undertook consultations with senior government officials of the Ministry of Interior, Federal Affairs and Reconciliation to discuss the implementation of Somalia’s High-Level Segment pledges, including accession to both statelessness conventions. This effort resulted in the appointment of a statelessness focal point within the Ministry of Interior who will work with UNHCR to facilitate the development of a national action plan to end statelessness in Somalia by 2024.

On 4 June in Rabat, Morocco, UNHCR organized a webinar on “Statelessness: Causes, Consequences and Prevention Measures” for around 40 students of the Mohamed V University, Faculty of Law and its Legal Clinic. On 10 June, UNHCR also organized a webinar on statelessness prevention and birth registration for approximately 40 NGO members of the Protection Working Group of the Casablanca and Oriental Region. Both trainings aimed to raise awareness of statelessness and strengthen capacity to assist migrants and refugees with birth registration as well as to identify persons at risk of statelessness.

Implementation of the Global Action Plan

Also in line with Action 1 and Action 6, UNHCR provided legal assistance for the completion of naturalization applications to 321 refugees at risk of statelessness, including 179 children, in the Kayes region of Mali. The activities are in support of the Government’s effort to resolve the situation of refugees at risk of statelessness who arrived in Mali in the mid-1980s.

With regard to Action 7, Ensure birth registration for the prevention of statelessness, UNHCR provided support to several governments in issuing birth certificates to populations at risk of statelessness.  In Burkina Faso, progress has resumed on the joint UNHCR and Government project to deliver 30,000 late birth certificates and 20,000 National ID cards to IDPs and host communities. Despite disruption caused by the onset of the pandemic, 8,260 late birth certificates have been provided, and registration for ID cards is ongoing in the Nord, Centre-Nord and Boucle du Mouhoun regions. In the Kayes region of Mali, UNHCR supported late birth registration for 400 refugees at risk of statelessness in collaboration with the High Court of Kayes and the city councils of Djelebou and Samé Diongoma.

In line with Action 7, in South Africa, the NGO Lawyers for Human Rights has successfully litigated concerning the right of unmarried fathers to register the birth of their children in the case of Naki & Others v. The Minister of Home Affairs & Others. On 19 May, the Makhanda High Court handed down a judgment confirming the equal right of unmarried fathers to register the births of their children born out of wedlock. This outcome will result in the amendment of section 10 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act which currently discriminates against unmarried fathers.

With respect to Action 7, the Parliament of the Republic of Congo adopted a budget law that removes fees associated with birth registration. In addition, UNHCR facilitated the dispatch of birth registers to the most remote locations in the Republic of Congo: Likouala and Plateaux. These registers will allow local authorities to issue birth certificates to more than 1,000 children.

Also in line with Action 7, the Government of Rwanda endorsed civil registration services at health centres during an extraordinary cabinet meeting on 16 June. To ensure legal identity for all, in line with SDG Target 16.9, this action permits a “one-stop approach”: when the birth occurs, all processes of notification, registration and certification are done at once, thereby increasing the number of persons with birth certificates. This development follows the amendment of the 2016 Law Governing Persons and Family published in the official gazette in February this year.

Furthermore on Action 7, in Morocco UNHCR launched a survey with a legal partner to identify and assist children who have not been registered at birth. The ultimate goal is to regularize the civil status situation of all children born to refugees and asylum seekers in the country.

Finally, with respect to Action 9, Accede to the UN Statelessness Conventions, the National Assembly in the Republic of Congo adopted bills in favour of accession to the two UN Conventions on Statelessness on 26 June.

Media impact of the Campaign

On 25 June, UNHCR and the Governments of Togo, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea started a virtual awareness campaign on the importance of birth registration and challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The media campaign will be carried out through advertisement spots featuring government officials, artists and influencers on TV, radio, and social media in urban and rural areas. The spots will be translated into various local languages.

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Themes: International standards, Birth Registration, Naturalisation and Marriage, Statelessness
Regions: International
Year: 2020