The United Nations announced over the weekend that there were 4.4 million individuals worldwide who were officially classified as stateless, yet this figure is likely an underrepresentation due to their ‘invisibility’.
“In a statement, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, stressed the severe consequences of statelessness on those who are without a recognized nationality, while also making a plea for increased action to address this issue.
According to the UNHCR, stateless individuals, who lack formal citizenship in any country, often face severe human rights violations and significant barriers to basic service access. This situation frequently results in their political and economic marginalization and leaves them at risk of discrimination, exploitation, and abuse.
‘At least 4.4 million people in 95 countries are reported to be stateless or of undetermined nationality,’ the agency said in a statement.
‘The global figure is widely recognised to be significantly higher given the relative invisibility of stateless people in national statistical exercises.’
As per the UNHCR’s findings, a significant majority of the world’s stateless population consists of members from minority groups, and statelessness tends to perpetuate and intensify the discrimination and marginalization already faced by these communities.
‘Though statelessness has many causes, in many instances it can be resolved through simple legislative and policy changes. I call upon states worldwide to take immediate action and ensure no one is left behind,’ said UN refugees chief Filippo Grandi.
The UNHCR presented these figures in conjunction with the ninth anniversary of its “IBelong” campaign, which focuses on this issue.
The UNHCR highlighted that in 2023, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, North Macedonia, Portugal, and Tanzania had all made significant strides in dealing with statelessness, with the Republic of Congo becoming the latest country to accede to the Statelessness Conventions.
The latest count reveals that 97 countries have adhered to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, and 79 countries have ratified the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
‘The progress made in combatting statelessness is positive and we commend states for taking action. But it is not enough,’ said Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees.
‘With rising global forced displacement, millions are being left on the margins, deprived of their basic human rights, including participating in and contributing to society. This exclusion is unjust and must be addressed.’