Statelessness = invisibility in West Africa

At least 750,000 people are stateless in West Africa, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which is calling for governments to do more to give or restore the nationality of stateless individuals, and improve national laws to prevent statelessness.

Many in the region are both stateless and refugees, said Emmanuelle Mitte, senior protection officer on statelessness with UNHCR in Dakar, but the overwhelming majority of stateless persons in West Africa are stateless within their own country, lacking proof of the criteria required to guarantee their nationality.

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How can citizenship help us address refugee crises in Africa’s Great Lakes Region?

With the exception of Tanzania, all the countries in Africa’s Great Lakes region have generated refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in large numbers over the past decades. And despite huge efforts to resolve conflict and displacement, by any standard the number of refugees and IDPs remains painfully high.

This opinion piece argues that the framework of citizenship can contribute positively to a better understanding of, and better policy responses to, forced displacement in this region. In making its argument, it draws on nine case studies carried out in the Great Lakes by the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) over six years, as well as a paper that draws together some of the implications for policy makers. Citizenship in this context is understood as access to a bundle of legal rights enjoyed by nationals of a given State; and more broadly as recognition of the right and status of a person to belong in a given political community with all the attendant obligations and other rights.

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SA Adopts Stateless Baby

After a six-year legal battle, a girl born in South Africa to Cuban parents has a country she can call home.

Yesterday, the girl’s mother said she was able to sleep again after the Pretoria High Court last week ruled that her daughter was a South African citizen, and that the Department of Home Affairs had acted unlawfully by not registering her as such.

The Cape Town family – with the help of nonprofit organisation Lawyers for Human Rights – went to court after both South Africa and Cuba refused the child citizenship.

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Girl of Cuban Parents Gains SA Citizenship

The North Gauteng High Court set a precedent last week when it ordered the government to change its citizenship act to facilitate the granting of citizenship to children born in the country to foreign parents – and, therefore, prevent statelessness.

The order was made in a landmark case involving the 6-year-old daughter of Cuban parents, who was born in South Africa but could not inherit Cuban citizenship, as stipulated by Cuban laws. Cuban law states that children born outside Cuba, even to Cuban parents, are not Cuban citizens.

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Confusion on Zimbabwe Dual Citizenship Continues

Confusion surrounding the issue of dual citizenship continues, with the Zimbabwean government website showing that dual nationality is still prohibited, a fortnight after the Constitutional Court ruled otherwise.

According to the website the 1984 Citizenship Act which says ‘no adult citizen shall be a citizen of another country’ is still binding. This is also despite the fact it is more than a year since the country adopted a new Constitution which experts say permits dual nationality.

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