12 million stateless people in dire need of assistance


In Search of Identity: An ailing 75-year-old Bihari sits alone in his room in a camp in Bangladesh.

More than 12 million people worldwide are living without citizenship of any country, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and denial of basic human rights, according to the UN Refugee agency UNHCR.

Although statelessness is a global phenomenon, the problem is most acute in South East Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres says stateless people are in desperate need of help as they `live in a nightmarish legal limbo.'

The agency says without nationality children of stateless parents are unable to access formal education, health and other basis services.

Erika Feller from UNHCR says breakup of states, arbitrary denial of citizenship, ethnic and religious discrimination were often the main causes of statelessness.

 ”If you look at Iraq today, there are around 200,000 to 300,000 Kurds who were arbitrarily deprived of their nationality in the period of Saddam Hussein. Nationality is also lost through state succession when one state succeeds another or a state breaks up.  An obvious example is Sudan.  The break up of the former Yugoslavia is also a very good example or the break up of the Soviet Union for example that has left large pockets of people without effective or without claim to a nationality in the countries which they found themselves suddenly residents of.” 

UNHCR is appealing to more countries to sign up to two United Nations Conventions on Statelessness in order to find a durable global solution to the problem.

 Duration 41"

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