Solutions urgently needed for Rohingya, million others: UNHCR

DHAKA UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi

today said solutions are urgently needed for millions without citizenship or

at risk of statelessness around the world- including Myanmar's Rohingya, and

minority populations at risk of statelessness in India's Assam.

Without these, we risk a deepening of the exclusion that already affects

the lives of millions of people. This is why a redoubling of efforts has

become crucially needed, said Grandi.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees warned that recent advances in the battle

to end statelessness � a leading cause of human rights deprivation for

millions of people worldwide � were being imperiled by a rise in damaging

forms of nationalism, a press release said.

In Geneva ahead of the opening of UNHCR's annual Executive Committee

meeting, Grandi said that the growing number of countries taking action

against statelessness meant the international community was nearing a point

of critical mass in its efforts to stamp out statelessness for good.

As recently as five years ago, public awareness of statelessness, and the

harm it causes, was still negligible. That is changing, and today the

prospect of ending statelessness entirely has never been closer, said

Grandi.

And yet the progress is far from assured: damaging forms of nationalism,

and the manipulation of anti-refugee and migrant sentiment � these are

powerful currents internationally that risk putting progress into reverse,

he said.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, launched a global '#IBelong' Campaign in 2014

aimed at ending statelessness by 2024.

Since then some 15 countries have newly acceded to the two major treaties

on statelessness, the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless

Persons, and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

With additional accessions and other commitments expected this week, total

accessions to the first of these treaties, the 1954 Convention on the Status

of Stateless Persons, could soon exceed the notable threshold of 100

countries.

In the first five years of the Campaign, more than 220,000 stateless people

have now acquired a nationality, including as a result of concerted national

efforts that have been motivated by the Campaign, in places as diverse as

Kyrgyzstan and Kenya, Tajikistan and Thailand.

In July of this year Kyrgyzstan became the first country in the world to

announce the complete resolution of all known cases of statelessness.

In addition, since the Campaign was launched two countries, Madagascar and

Sierra Leone, reformed their nationality laws to allow mothers to confer

citizenship on their children on an equal footing with fathers.

However, 25 countries continue to make it difficult or impossible for

mothers to confer citizenship on their children, one of the leading causes of

statelessness globally. As not all nationality laws contain safeguards that

ensure that no child is born stateless, statelessness can also be passed down

from generation to generation.

Ending all forms of discrimination in nationality laws would help the

international community live up to the commitment all States made when

adopting the Sustainable Development Agenda to leave no one behind.

Today, leading figures in the media, human rights, refugee and

statelessness worlds are joining member state representatives in Geneva in a

special session of UNHCR's Executive Committee meeting known as the High-

Level Segment on Statelessness, to take stock of progress half way through

the Campaign and to commit to take more action to end statelessness by 2024.

Among those attending are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, UNHCR

Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett, British TV journalist and presenter Anita

Rani, formerly stateless refugee and activist Maha Mamo, OSCE High

Commissioner on National Minorities, Lamberto Zannier and others.

Some countries will be putting pledges into action, by formally lodging

instruments of accession to the statelessness treaties.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)