Yolanda Alcino is stateless. She has no health insurance, can’t report domestic abuse and her children are not registered as being born.
She’s not alone. An estimated 10-12 million people globally face a similar plight. However that could soon change following the launch of a United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) campaign last September, which aims to eradicate statelessness by 2024.
Alcino was refused Dominican Republic identification when she turned 18-years-old in 2007, the same year the government ceased recognising those of Haitian descent as citizens. “I don’t understand,” she said. “I was born here, I live here. Now suddenly I am told I am not from here.”
Stateless people are not recognised citizens of any nation. They have limited or no rights to education, employment, voting and movement between countries.
Leigh Foster from the UNHCR said: “Statelessness may occur for various reasons including discrimination against ethnic groups, the break-up of states or change of borders. There is not a region in the world unaffected by statelessness.”
The UNHCR campaign will focus on pressing governments to implement the two UN statelessness conventions: the 1954 convention to provide rights until nationality is obtained and the 1961 convention to prevent statelessness.
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