Three years after the civil war, patriotic sentiment is running high on Independence Day in Ivory Coast. But in seven, small hamlets hidden in the lush green cocoa fields of the central belt, the villagers are keener than most to prove their loyalty to the nation. Their ancestral roots lie in Burkina Faso, and people in this community had until recently faced discrimination for almost 80 years. Locals beat them and accused them of being foreigners, police restricted their movement and courts denied them justice. Read more.
Mohammad Javed is an Urdu-speaking entrepreneur living in the middle of Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. Looking to grow his business, Mohammad decided to travel to India to start importing spare auto-rickshaw parts for his own repairs and to sell to others. Yet Mohammad was unsure of the process through which he could obtain a passport. He was also intimidated to approach the passport authority office. While a landmark 2008 High Court judgment confirmed Urdu-speakers’ Bangladeshi citizenship and ended their 40 year struggle with statelessness, Mohammad had heard stories of fellow Urdu-speakers being denied passports due to their identity and residence in urban “camps” established by the ICRC after Bangladesh became independent in 1971. Read more.
In the last decade there has been a renewed impetus on the part of the international community, supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to address the plight of stateless persons. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes clear, everyone has a right to a nationality. Without nationality, individuals face an existence characterised by insecurity and marginalisation. Stateless people are amongst the most vulnerable in the world, often denied enjoyment of rights such as equality before the law, the right to work, education or healthcare. Despite the actions of many States to prevent or reduce statelessness through measures such as reform of their nationality laws, new cases of statelessness continue to arise. Stateless persons can be found in almost every country. Indeed, some families have been stateless for generations. Read more.