UNHCR Campaign to End Statelessness Update Oct-Dec 2020

Published: 12/Jan/2021
Source: UNHCR

Extracts relevant to Africa:

Mobilizing Governments and Civil Society

On 7 November, the Consolidated Action Plan of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) on the Eradication of Statelessness (2017-2024) was validated during a regional inter-ministerial committee meeting. The action plan adds a new strategic objective on access to proof of legal identity for persons at risk of statelessness, including refugees in protracted circumstances. This step is in line with a pledge made by the ICGLR at the 2019 High-Level Segment on Statelessness.

On 13 November, a National Action Plan to End Statelessness (NAP) was finalized in Uganda during a working group meeting convened by UNHCR and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The NAP will be officially launched in 2021 and then implemented by the National Taskforce on Statelessness.

On 1 November, a Joint Submission to the Committee on the Rights of the Child pertaining to South Africa was submitted by Lawyers for Human Rights, the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town and the Centre for Child Law. The report assesses South Africa’s compliance with the child’s right to a nationality enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. On 2 December, Lawyers for Human Rights, in collaboration with Pro Bono.Org, hosted a virtual training on “Access to Nationality and Statelessness in South Africa” for over 20 lawyers. The purpose of the training was to capacitate lawyers across South Africa to provide legal assistance to persons affected by statelessness. At the conclusion of the training, all the lawyers were invited to join the South African Network on Statelessness (“SANS”).

On 3 and 4 December, in Madagascar, Focus Development Association and UNHCR held a training workshop on the right to nationality for
20 parliamentarians from the National Assembly in Ampefy.

In November and December, the Interinstitutional Technical Committee on statelessness in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and UNHCR organized a series of events in Bakavu, Bunia and Goma to engage local authorities in addressing statelessness. The events resulted in a provincial roadmap on the eradication of statelessness by 2024 in the provinces of South Kivu, Ituri and North Kivu.

On 11 and 12 November, the Kingdom of Eswatini and UNHCR convened a briefing with Members of Parliament to encourage Parliament to take action in line with the pledge submitted by the Kingdom of Eswatini at the 2019 High-Level Segment on Statelessness to remove gender
discriminatory provisions in the nationality law. To support advocacy efforts, UNHCR convened a training session the following day with media and governmental communications staff.

From 30 November to 4 December, the second edition of the Statelessness and Nationality Course for French speaking statelessness practitioners was organized jointly by the Catholic University for Central Africa and UNHCR in Yaoundé, Cameroon. A total of 60 trainees from 30 countries participated in the virtual course, which was taught principally by trainers from across Africa. Trainers from the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness of the University of Melbourne and from Tilburg University complemented the course with a global perspective.

On 14 and 15 December, a stocktaking event as follow-up to the 2019 High-Level Segment on Statelessness and Global Refugee Forum focused on the West and Central Africa region was convened by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) and UNHCR. Despite constraints posed by the pandemic, good progress on the implementation of statelessness pledges has been made in the region, including the establishment of a Statelessness Determination Procedure in Côte d’Ivoire, the adoption of a progressive civil registration framework in Chad, and the publication of a study in Mali, among other achievements.

On 25 November, the Government of Nigeria adopted a National Action Plan against Statelessness during a Federal Executive Council meeting.

On 5 and 10 October, the Directorate for Aid and Assistance to Refugees and Stateless Persons of Côte d’Ivoire and UNHCR organized a workshop in Yamoussoukro to train all 81 staff of the National Council for Human Rights on statelessness and civil registry issues. On the margins of the workshop, UNHCR and the National Council for Human Rights adopted a 2021-2023 Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on the implementation of the National Action Plan to End Statelessness and the regional Banjul Action Plan to End Statelessness.

On 5 December, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Niger appointed the members of a technical committee tasked with reforming the institutional asylum framework. In line with a pledge made at the High-Level Segment on Statelessness, reforms are expected to include the establishment of a Statelessness Determination Procedure.

Implementation of the Global Action Plan

In line with Action 1, Resolve existing situations of statelessness, on 12 December and on the occasion of Kenya’s 57th Independence Day celebrations, the President of Kenya announced a landmark decision to grant citizenship to 1,670 stateless Shona and 1,300 stateless persons of Rwandan descent who qualify under the law as Kenyan citizens. The decision follows a pledge made by the Government of Kenya during UNHCR’s 2019 High-Level Segment on Statelessness.

Also in line with Action 1, on 22 July, the Constitutional Court of South Africa declared children (now adults) born in exile to South African parents as citizens of the country. The decision came following seven years of litigation concerning the status of such children (Chisuse v Director-General of Home Affairs CCT 155/19). All four of the applicants in this case have since had their births registered and are awaiting the issuance of ID documents in line with the court order.

In line with Action 2 and Action 8, Issue nationality documentation to those with an entitlement to it, the Women Jurists’ Association of Côte d’Ivoire, supported by UNHCR, provided legal assistance to persons at risk of statelessness to resolve their situation and help ensure that foundlings are issued with birth and nationality certificates. In 2020, this work has led to the issuance of documentation to over 300 children.

In line with Action 7, Ensure birth registration for the prevention of statelessness, the Ministry of Interior and Decentralization of Madagascar and Focus Development Association organized an awareness campaign on birth registration from September to December. Videos were screened and broadcast text messages sent to communities in pre-identified areas to encourage birth registration and thereby reduce the risk of statelessness.

Also on Action 7, in the Republic of Congo, UNHCR and local authorities organized an awareness raising campaign on birth registration from 1 November to 31 December in the departments of Brazzaville, Plateaux and Likouala. Community relays were trained and deployed to raise awareness among households on the need to register births in order to reduce the risk of statelessness.

Also in line with Action 7, on 13 November, the Republic of Congo published Ministerial Order n° 14888 to establish auxiliary civil status centres in health facilities to limit the risks of non-registration of children when they leave the hospital.

In line with Action 7, UNHCR provided support to a number of governments in issuing birth certificates to populations at risk of statelessness. From 21 November to 2 December, the Government of the Republic of Congo, with support from UNHCR, organized a campaign to issue birth certificates to indigenous populations in the departments of La Lekoumou, Kouilou and Sangha. The campaign involved mobile court hearings that resulted in 2,000 indigenous people receiving birth certificates.

In Sudan, the civil registry and UNHCR continued birth registration campaigns in Darfur, Kordofan and White Nile states that contributed to up to 15,000 children having their births registered in the last quarter of 2020. The campaigns targeted refugees, IDPs and host communities and involved late birth registration as well as cases of children born out of wedlock and foundlings.

In Tanzania, a campaign by the authorities and UNHCR to clear birth registration backlogs among refugee children born in Kigoma resulted in the issuance of 13,537 birth certificates. In Yemen, UNHCR, in close collaboration with civil registration authorities, continued to provide legal assistance to displaced families to ensure birth registration, facilitating the issuance of 305 birth certificates to refugee/asylum seeker children and 4,969 birth certificates to IDP children. In Egypt, UNHCR supported the birth registration of 215 children through the provision of legal aid.

Also in line with Action 8, in South Sudan, UNHCR and the Directorate for Civil Registry, Nationality, Passports and Immigration facilitated applications for nationality certificates for 1,300 individuals in Bor, Bazia Al-Jaded and Khor Mudir. The projects specifically targeted individuals who could not afford to acquire certificates on their own.

On Action 9, Accede to the UN Statelessness Conventions, on 5 August, the Government of the Republic of the Congo authorized accession to the two UN Statelessness Conventions. The Government has yet to formally deposit its instruments of accession.

In line with Action 10, Improve quantitative and qualitative data on stateless populations, in October, the Government of Namibia commissioned a study on stateless persons and those at risk of statelessness which is to be carried out in all regions in Namibia. This initiative builds on the pledges made by the Government of Namibia at the 2019 High-Level Segment on Statelessness.

Further on Action 10, from 16 to 19 November, the National Statelessness Taskforce of Rwanda, with support from UNHCR, carried out a pilot survey for data collection on stateless persons and those with undetermined nationality in Bugesera and Rwamagana districts. The pilot helped refine the methodology and data collection tools.

Download from UNHCR: https://www.refworld.org/docid/5ffc72a84.html


Themes: Acquisition by children, International standards, Naturalisation and Marriage, Statelessness
Regions: Central Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, International, Pan Africa, Namibia, South Africa, Eswatini
Year: 2020