(Xinhua) -- The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
said on Tuesday that there are over 10 million stateless persons
in the world with African continent hosting one million.
UNHCR deputy representative in Kenya
Walpurga Englbrecht said weak legal nationality laws and
ignorance from the affected countries had contributed to the
Despite the high numbers, Englbrecht
had expressed its commitment that it will eradicate the issue by
2024 through the global campaign dubbed ‘I belong’ which was
started in 2014.
“We have around 10 million stateless
persons globally and in Africa it’s estimated that there are
1 million of the persons which include both adults and
minors,” she told a regional workshop in the Kenyan town of
Member States of the Great Lake region
are meeting in the lakeside town for a three day regional
Englbrecht said they had increased
their awareness in a bid to achieve the objectives of the global
campaign. She said that they were working with governments to
amend legislations on nationality and involve the affected
Englbrecht noted that due to their
condition, the stateless persons could not access basic rights
like education, employment and marriages.
“The major challenges that we are
facing in this war is failure by their respective government
to recognize them or amend the law.
The UNHCR official however lauded the
Kenyan government for recognizing the stateless people of
Makonde community who originally came from Mozambique.
“This is a move in the right direction
and we are prepared to work with the Kenyan government to
address other cases of stateless persons,” she said.
Benedicte Voos, UNHCR senior Regional
Protection Officer identified Rohinngya in Bangladesh as the
leading region in the world with the highest number of stateless
Voos noted that this was an invisible
problem which made it impossible to get the real figures of the
number of affected persons in every country.
Laura Parker, UNHCR’s Associate Legal
Officer said their main focus was to identify, reduce, prevent
and protect the affected persons.
“In this case the affected persons do
not have legal documents like birth certificates or identity
cards and this exposes them to harassment including arrests
by the state,” she said.