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10 million people remain stateless worldwide: UNHCR

Published: November 03, 2017 17:20:31 | Updated: November 06, 2017 10:37:21


Photo: Reuters

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said an estimated 10 million people worldwide are stateless, including three million officially.

This 'stateless status' deprives them of an identity, rights, and often jobs, said the UN refugee agency on Friday.

"If you live in this world without a nationality, you are without an identity, you are without documentation, without the rights and entitlements that we take for granted ... having a job, having education, knowing that your child belongs somewhere," said UNHCR's international protection division Director Carol Batchelor at a news briefing in Geneva.

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said 3.2 million people in 75 countries were known to be stateless, having been registered or counted by governments.

"But the estimated total is 10 million, including large populations in countries including Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Lebanon and Democratic Republic of Congo," he said.

The refugee agency urged governments to give nationality to people born on their territory if they would otherwise be stateless, and facilitate naturalisation for longtime stateless residents.

Asked whether Rohingya fell into the category of those deliberately excluded and deprived of nationality, Batchelor said: "We can only look at the result ... Myanmar has a nationality law. It outlines categories of persons that are considered to be citizens of Myanmar. The Rohingya are not on that list."

According to a Reuters report, some 30,000 stateless people in Thailand have acquired nationality since 2012 and the Makonde, a community of 4,000, became Kenya's 43rd officially recognised tribe last year, the report said.

"We are seeing reductions in Thailand, in central Asia, in Russia, in Western Africa. But the numbers are not nearly as substantial as they would need to be for us to end statelessness by 2024," said Melanie Khanna, head of UNHCR's statelessness section.

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