UNHCR Campaign to End Statelessness Update October – December 2022
Extracts relevant to Africa:
Implementation of the Global Action Plan
Action 1: Resolve existing major situations of statelessness
On 12 December, during Kenya’s 59th Jamhuri Day (Independence day) celebrations, President Dr. William Ruto announced that the Government will “initiate modalities to recognize the Pemba people as citizens of Kenya”. This important step follows year-long advocacy from a group of Members of Parliament, affected communities, UNHCR and civil society, as well as a 2020 public petition calling on the government to recognize the Pemba as Kenyan. UNHCR will provide technical and operational support to the government and other stakeholders to ensure that this announcement is translated into effective access to Kenyan citizenship and the issuance of nationality documentation to the Pemba community. To operationalize the presidential decision to naturalize the Pemba people, UNHCR and its partner organization the Haki Centre are supporting the Pemba people in creating a community self-register to map their family trees in order to prove their claim to Kenyan nationality. To finalize the self-register, UNHCR provided a training on the Citizen Generated Data framework to staff from the Haki Centre, paralegals from the Pemba community, and community representatives.
Action 2: Ensure that no child is born stateless
A number of States in West and Central Africa made steps towards establishing a statelessness determination procedure in the fourth quarter of 2022. On 24 October, the National Assembly of Benin adopted a law on the status of refugees and stateless persons which regulates the protection of stateless persons and provides for the creation of a national body in charge of the to-be-established statelessness determination procedure. The next step will be publication of the law in the Official Gazette and adoption of the implementing decree.
On 26 October, the Ministry of Justice of Niger, with the support from UNHCR, organized a workshop to discuss and validate a consultancy report on an asylum reform and the establishment of a statelessness determination procedure.
The Governments of Burkina Faso and Guinea held workshops with experts to review and validate draft legislation on the establishment of statelessness determination procedures. The draft legislation will next be submitted for adoption in both countries.
The National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) of Nigeria held a three-day meeting to review the draft standard operating procedures on the statelessness determination procedure. The meeting was attended by representatives from relevant government agencies, UN agencies and NGOs and resulted in a communique from various stakeholders calling on the NCFRMI to promptly establish a statelessness determination procedure.
Action 7: Ensure birth registration for the prevention of statelessness
From 14 to 18 November, in Kenya, UNHCR’s partner organization Haki Centre and the Civil Registration Services conducted a five-day mobile birth registration exercise in five locations in Kwale County assisting over 2,000 stateless individuals and at-risk populations. UNHCR joined the exercise to monitor the implementation and get feedback from the communities on service delivery. Also in Kenya, from 28 November to 2 December, UNHCR, Haki Centre and the Civil Registration Services consulted with the stateless Pemba and Rundi communities in Kwale and Kilifi counties to understand the challenges they encounter in accessing late birth registration. Their feedback and recommendations are meant to inform policy changes in late birth registration to ensure that stateless persons can access these procedures.
UNHCR and the civil registry authorities of Sudan continued birth registration campaigns in eight states of the country and issued birth certificates to more than 5,000 individuals at risk of statelessness, including returnees, internally displaced people, refugees, and individuals from host communities. The eight states include North, West and South Kordofan, North, East and Central Darfur, Gedaref and Khartoum.
From October to December, UNCHR supported the Government of Burkina Faso in issuing over 40,000 civil status and identity documents to around 4,000 refugees, 20,000 internally displaced persons and 16,000 members of host communities. Additionally, the digital icivil birth registration tool was deployed in the commune of Karangasso-Vigué, Hauts-Bassins region, which facilitated the issuance of close to 600 birth certificates to persons at risk of statelessness. In the same period 60 new secondary civil registration centers were opened.
In Algeria, UNHCR carried out awareness-raising sessions on the importance of birth registration during refugee registration and reception activities from October to December. During this period, several individuals were identified and referred for legal assistance to access late birth registration services or to correct their birth certificates.
Action 8: Issue nationality documentation to those with entitlement to it
In 2022, UNHCR and its partner the Catholic University of Mozambique, in cooperation with the Government of Mozambique, supported the issuance of identity documents to 8,619 internally displaced persons and members of the host community in Cabo Delgado Province. In Nampula Province 7,482 identity documents and 7,884 birth certificates were issued and in Zambezia province, 2,873 identity documents and 5,593 birth certificates were issued.
Action 10: Improve quantitative and qualitative data on stateless populations
On 19 October, the study “Statelessness and Risks of Statelessness in Malawi” was validated at a stakeholders’ meeting in Lilongwe, Malawi, and will soon be published. The study was commissioned by the Government of Malawi and UNHCR.
On 28 October, the Government of Angola and UNHCR released a study on statelessness which was shared with government authorities, embassies, UN agencies and other relevant parties. The study identifies the following groups as being at risk of statelessness: former Angolan refugees returning to Angola, abandoned children, street children, nomadic communities in southern Angola, populations living in disputed border regions, irregular foreign migrants and long-term refugees.
Mobilizing governments and civil society
The Ministry of Interior Federal Affairs and Reconciliation of Somalia held a stakeholder consultation from 2 to 5 October on improving civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) in the country. The meeting resulted in several agreed action points, including the capacity building of civil registration officials, the establishment of local registrar offices in five districts within each Federal Member State and the development of a costed CRVS plan for the next five years.
Malawi held a consultation meeting on accession to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness on 21 October which convened representatives of various ministries, including the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the National Human Rights Commission. The meeting resulted in a recommendation by the stakeholders for the country to accede to the convention.
The Ministry of Homeland Security of Malawi held a stakeholder workshop from 19 to 21 October that resulted in a draft national action plan on statelessness for the implementation of the government’s pledges submitted at the 2019 High-Level Segment on Statelessness and Global Refugee Forum. The plan has been submitted to the Minister of Home Affairs for validation.
In Cameroon, UNHCR held an information session on statelessness in December for parliamentarians, members of the Senate and relevant ministries, with the goal of securing the commitment of parliamentarians in supporting the government’s efforts to eradicate statelessness. The session focused on initiatives that require the support from parliamentarians, such as accession to the UN Statelessness Conventions. As a result of the session, parliamentarians issued a communique inviting the government to finalize accession to the conventions as soon as possible and implement their provisions. The parliamentarians also committed to passing laws to promote the inclusion of people at risk of statelessness in Cameroon.
UNHCR, in collaboration with government counterparts, held a workshop on 25 and 26 November in Liberia that resulted in the updating of
the national action plan to eradicate statelessness, which was first developed in 2015. The national action plan is currently awaiting validation by all relevant experts before it is submitted to the cabinet for endorsement.
In Mozambique UNHCR and its partner for legal documentation and assistance activities, the Universidade Católica de Moçambique (UCM), organized and co-facilitated a workshop from 5 to 7 December, on statelessness in Pemba,. The workshop convened key officials from seven government entities who could be potential advocates and allies in the effort to end statelessness. The workshop raised awareness about the international and national legal frameworks related to statelessness and nationality, and examined the risks of statelessness in the Mozambican context. Recommendations were made on measures to reduce statelessness by improving access to birth registration and identity documents. The workshop also advocated for changes to the Mozambican nationality law and processes to align them with the 1954 and 1961 Conventions, which Mozambique has already ratified, and to resolve conflicts between the nationality law and several provisions in the Mozambican Constitution.
UNHCR, in partnership with the Helsinki Committee, the Arab Institute for Human Rights, and the Faculty of Legal, Political, and Social Sciences of Tunisia, held from 28 to 30 November, a regional seminar in Tunis focused on both international protection and the prevention of statelessness in the North Africa region. Legal actors including lawyers and judges, members of academia and legal clinic directors from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia participated in the meeting. During the seminar, a study on statelessness in Tunisia, which was prepared jointly by UNHCR and the Arab Institute for Human Rights, was presented. The seminar also opened up opportunities for strengthened partnerships between UNHCR and legal clinics and the creation of a regional network of legal clinics.
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