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For Immediate Release
Washington, DC – Despite gains made in recent years, more forceful efforts are needed to assist 12 million stateless people who hold no effective nationality, Refugees International revealed in a new report today. Nationality Rights for All: A Progress Report and Global Survey on Statelessness highlights how stateless people lack access to basic services and receive no legal protection. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has made progress in ending this denial of human rights, but must still press governments to find and implement timely solutions and UN agencies must better coordinate their efforts. In addition, the U.S. should increase diplomatic and financial support to reinforce the UN’s and UNHCR’s efforts to resolve statelessness.
"Without nationality, people can’t travel freely, vote, send their children to school, or participate in society. The rights we take for granted apply to stateless people," said Maureen Lynch, Refugees International’s Senior Advocate for Stateless Initiatives and co-author of the report. "Stateless people are beginning to receive the recognition and assistance they need and deserve, but individual governments and UN agencies must increase their efforts to help millions of people who still live in a legal limbo."
Nationality Rights for All: Progress Report and Global Survey on Statelessness highlights cases of progress. In Bangladesh, the High Court recently recognized most of the Urdu-speaking minority as citizens by ordering willing adults to be registered to vote and receive national identity cards. UNHCR is also thinking more strategically about the issue and has actively reduced statelessness by working with governments in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mauritania, and Kyrgyzstan. The report also provides an updated global survey of statelessness in over 80 countries and details advances in protecting the human rights of stateless people and in preventing and reducing statelessness.
"It is clear that identifying and reducing statelessness is achievable. It is possible to register every child at birth, to help stateless children access free education and to prohibit indefinite detention of stateless people," said Katherine Southwick, co-author of the report. "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to a nationality, but millions of people still lack the proper recognition they need to lead normal lives. A loss of nationality rapidly amounts to a massive denial of basic human rights."
The report notes that the number of stateless people roughly equals the number of refugees worldwide, but that stateless individuals receive less assistance and protection than refugees. Statelessness results from many factors such as political change, expulsion of people from a territory, discrimination, nationality based solely on descent and laws regulating marriage and birth registration.
Refugees International is a Washington, DC-based organization that advocates to end refugee crises. Since 2004, Refugees International has been the leading organization calling on policy makers to reduce the numbers and secure the human rights of stateless people. Nationality Rights for All is based on field visits to over a dozen countries. For more information or to download a copy of the report, go to http://www.refugeesinternational.org.
Contact: Vanessa Parra, 202-828-0110 x225;