UNHCR Campaign to End Statelessness Update April-June 2022
Extracts relevant to Africa:
Top events and news
• 15 civil society and legal aid organizations established the Eastern Africa Nationality Network.
• Three pledges from the 2019 High Level Segment on Statelessness were fully or partially implemented in Georgia, Zambia and the Philippines.
Action 2: Ensure that no child is born stateless
In Algeria, several sensitization sessions were organized targeting vulnerable groups and groups at-risk, to raise awareness on the importance of birth registration and relevant procedure to access birth certificates. Most participants were women and girls. Throughout the sessions, UNHCR identified a number of persons in need of legal assistance and made referrals for support with late birth registration and corrections on birth certificates.
Action 6: Grant protection status to stateless migrants and facilitate their naturalization
In the Republic of Congo, on 15 June, the Cabinet Council adopted a draft decree on the creation of a statelessness determination procedure. The draft is now pending final adoption by the Council of Ministers. It is an important step towards ensuring that stateless persons can be recognized and access protection.
Action 7: Ensure birth registration for the prevention of statelessness
In Sudan, the Civil Registry Department of the Ministry of Interior and UNHCR launched a birth registration campaign in eight states of Sudan (South, West, North Kordofan, East, North, Central Darfur States, Gadara and Khartoum). The campaign targeted 13,500 children without birth certificates. A total of 8,000 children so far have been registered and are awaiting their birth certificates.
In Zambia, the Ministry of Home Affairs with the support of UNHCR conducted a registration and certification exercise to prevent the risk of statelessness for refugees, asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations. For the first time, the Government used a new system to register and issue birth certificates on the spot. A total of 2,895 birth certificates were issued at the Mohebi and Mayukwayukwa refugee settlements. In doing so, Zambia fulfilled its 2019 HLS pledge.
In Niger, national authorities supported by UNHCR facilitated the issuance of over 1000 birth certificates through mobile courts in the regions of Tahoua, Maradi, Tillabéri and Diffa. Community sensitization activities were also implemented in these areas, including through community radio broadcast messages, community awareness sessions and theatre performances. Key topics included the importance of civil documentation for the prevention of statelessness and provided information on the relevant services.
In Burkina Faso, with financial support from the US Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, UNHCR and the government delivered over 7,000 identity and civil status documents (birth certificates, nationality certificates and identity
cards) to internally displaced persons and their host communities in three regions of Burkina Faso. UNHCR also supported the municipality of Fada-N’Gourma in the Eastern region to digitize and preserve close to 70,000 birth certificates.
Action 7 and Action 8: Issue nationality documentation to those with entitlement to it
In Mozambique, as of June, a total of 23,978 internally displaced persons at risk of statelessness have been issued with civil documentation, including birth certificates. Mobile legal services provided by the Catholic University, UNHCR’s partner in
Pemba also supported this initiative. Access to civil documentation can reduce risks of statelessness and enables the displaced populations to access services and protection.
In South Sudan, UNHCR organized a targeted documentation mission to Raja in Western Bahr El Ghazal State. Nationality Officers from the Directorate of Civil Registry, Nationality, Passport and Immigration assisted cross-border communities to register for nationality documentation. A total of 2,000 vulnerable persons were financially supported. Nationality cards will be issued to those reached through the campaign, enabling them to graduate school, apply for jobs and start businesses.
Enhancing coordination on statelessness
In Kenya, during a regional meeting organized by UNHCR, 15 civil society organizations from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, South Sudan and Rwanda, launched the Eastern Africa Nationality Network. The first civil society network on statelessness in the region, it brings together human rights organizations, legal aid service providers and minority rights
organizations to work together towards ending statelessness and the protection of stateless persons. The members will collaborate towards regional advocacy efforts, awareness raising and capacity building activities and empowering stateless communities.
In Sudan, the Abyei Committee, joined by the Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, community leaders and civil society, conducted a mission to North Kordofan to coordinate and prepare for a targeted documentation campaign for members of
the Dinka Ngok community. The Abyei Committee was established in 2018 by the Sudanese government to find a durable solution and pathways to Sudanese nationality for the communities living in the Abyei area which is disputed by Sudan and
South Sudan. Despite efforts by the community living in the North Kordofan region, they have been unable to access Sudanese nationality documentation.
In Niger, UNHCR and the Ministry of Justice signed a partnership agreement to facilitate implementation of the National Action Plan to End Statelessness 2018 – 2024. The agreement covers a range of activities, including public awareness raising, strengthening birth registration systems through material support, and the revision of Niger’s nationality legislation. As part of the agreement, UNHCR will be providing financial and technical support to the government of Niger for the implementation of the activities. As part of the implementation of the partnership agreement, UNHCR and the Ministry of Justice organized an awareness-raising workshop on statelessness for representatives from the judiciary, community leaders and civil society organizations in Niger. Topics included the international legal framework on statelessness and nationality, the causes and consequences of statelessness and the need for the prevention and reduction of statelessness and the protection of stateless persons.
In Madagascar, UNHCR hosted a virtual workshop with Focus Development Association (FDA), a partner organization, to redefine the overall strategy to address statelessness. The workshop participants identified concrete actions to redouble efforts to end statelessness, including the finalization of the National Action Plan, the adoption of the country report on statelessness, further legal reform, and legal assistance to stateless persons.
The Ministry of Home Affairs of the Kingdom of Eswatini convened a roundtable to assess progress on the nationwide civil registration and documentation exercise, which started in February 2022. As of the end of April, 3,356 civil and vital events have been registered and relevant documentation issued, including birth and marriage certificates and national ID cards. despite these successes, several challenges were identified regarding the implementation of the exercise, including the lack of resources.
In the Republic of Congo, the Government, with support from UNHCR, conducted an awareness raising campaign on birth registration and the prevention of statelessness. Thirty-five community volunteers were deployed in Brazzaville, Pointe-
Noire, Dolisie, Sibiti and Gamboma, reaching a total of 5,000 household, highlighting the need for birth registration.
In Kenya, UNHCR, the Haki Centre Organization and the Refugee Coordinator of the US Embassy, organized a meeting between government authorities, the Civil Registration Services and members from the Pemba and Rundi communities in Kwale and Kilifi counties. The importance of birth registration and access to services for stateless and at-risk communities was highlighted and community representatives raised concerns related to continued discrimination. During the meetings, the government authorities committed to continue supporting community sensitization, mobile birth registration and improved access to birth registration and documentation.
In Kenya, the UN Legal Identity Agenda Country Team submitted a written memorandum to comment on the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS)/Huduma Bill. The memorandum advocates for the inclusion of stateless individuals in the national registration system and the issuance of Huduma or service cards to stateless persons to enable access to government services.
In Tanzania, UNHCR and the School of Law of the University of Dar es Salaam organized an event for law students, focusing on the international legal framework on statelessness, UNHCR’s mandate and the causes and consequences of statelessness. The session further included discussions with participants on the legal framework in Tanzania, and actions that may be required to prevent statelessness.
In South Africa, UNHCR and the Department of Home Affairs convened a stakeholder dialogue on nationality and statelessness, which followed a high-level dialogue between the UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection and the Minister of Home Affairs in January 2022. Participants developed a draft National Action Plan, validated the Terms of Reference for a qualitative study on statelessness in South Africa, and adopted concrete resolutions to be implemented by the Government of South Africa and strengthen stakeholder engagement. The Director General of the Department of Home Affairs announced that South Africa will be acceding to the UN Statelessness Conventions following national consultations.
In South Sudan, UNHCR organized a roundtable discussion with parliamentarians on the domestication of the Kampala convention, the South Sudan Durable Solutions Strategy and accessions to the Statelessness Conventions. A total of 40 members of parliament joined, including from relevant committees such as Humanitarian Affairs, Justice and Legislation. The roundtable was also attended by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, the Commission for
Refugees, ICRC and IOM. The Parliamentarians agreed on the importance of mitigating the risks of statelessness in the country and asked for a dedicated workshop on the subject.
In Burkina Faso, UNHCR and the government organized a two-day workshop with relevant government stakeholders to validate the draft Law on Civil Status, Nationality and the Domestication of the 1954 Convention relating to the status of
stateless persons. The draft law is scheduled to be adopted by the Council of Ministers and the Transitional Legislative Assembly in the second half of 2022.
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