UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency currently estimates atleast 10 million people globally are Stateless. Out of this high population, one third are children according to studies and statistics.
The reason for Statelessness occurs due to discrimination against minority, ethnic, religious groups or even genders, emergence of new States and conflicts of laws.
The recent example took place in Myanmar’s Rakhine state where, almost one million Rohingyas who are Burmese Muslims are stateless. This is due to citizenship being granted to certain ethnic groups.
Another important reason for statelessness increasing is because in 27 stataes around the world women are not allowed to transfer their nationality to their children, and this has increased due to fathers being unknown,missing and even dead.
Displacement has led to statelessness especially in Africa, for example the Burkinabe descents in Côte d’Ivoire who were not given Ivorian nationality after the country’s independence from France in 1960.
Areas that have experienced large-scale displacement have also been significantly affected by statelessness. In West Africa, the estimated stateless population in Côte d’Ivoire is 700,000, many of whom were migrants of Burkinabé descent who were not eligible for Ivorian nationality after the country’s independence from France in 1960.
Steps are being taken to combat this problem. In the past problems such as Urdu speaking Bihari’s living in Bangladesh were given citizenship in 2008.
Statelessness is not an easy way of living, as no country accepts you, which results in high number of poverty and insecurity. Poverty because they are not able to work officially for any country, and insecurity because no country will protect them.
To make a difference, people who belong to nations who are neglecting a certain group from becoming part of it, need to tackle the issues for the unfortunate. You can play your part by working on the four areas of statelessness – identification, prevention, reduction and protection. Take the help of UNHCR, UNICEF (UN Children’s Fund), UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), and OHCHR (High Commissioner for Human Rights). Even the local bodies of local NGOS, national human rights institutions, legal associations and other international organizations will provide help in securing the future of stateless people.