UN says one stateless child born every 10 minutes

UNHCR calls on all states to allow children to gain nationality of their country of birth in newly released report

Photo by: UNHCR
Photo by: UNHCR

Artee (18) from the Akha community in Thailand is a serious and diligent student with a strong sense of pride in her school and her community

A new report by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) detailed stateless children's state of despair, highlighting that a stateless child is born every 10 minutes somewhere in the world, meanwhile at least 70,000 stateless child are born each year among the refugees displaced by the Syrian civil war. 

28-page report “I am Here, I Belong: the Urgent Need to End Childhood Statelessness” is aiming to provide more than just statistics, as the testimony of 250 stateless children and as well as their parents or guardians were exemplified in order to deeply analyse their experience on being stateless.

The status of being stateless is affecting children's future by limiting their ability to grow and learn UNHCR said. Moreover, the stateless children cannot receive medical care in at least 30 countries and they cannot be legally vaccinated in at least 20 countries.

"Several million children are watching their childhoods slip away without the sense of belonging and protection that comes with a nationality," the report said.

A stateless child named Niran from Thailand told UNHCR how his dreams are already slipping away “I want to play with others” the 16-year-old sports enthusiast said.

“But sometimes, because I don’t have nationality, I cannot join the competition. I really want to be a professional football player," Niran added.

Findings of the geographically diverse survey, which are to be announced by the UNHCR chief at the UN headquarters on Wednesday suggested that majority of stateless people are refugees affected by armed conflict.

Syrian civil war has taken away fathers from 25 percent of the refugee families and forced more than four million people to flee their country.

Dozens of young people interviewed in seven countries described themselves and the statelessness as being “invisible," “alien," “living in a shadow," “like a street dog” and “worthless."

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres stated that the report was released in the first anniversary of UNHCR’s #IBelong campaign to end statelessness by 2024.

"In the short time that children get to be children, statelessness can set in stone grave problems that will haunt them throughout their childhoods and sentence them to a life of discrimination, frustration and despair," Guterres said, adding that no child should be stateless and that all children should belong.

TRTWorld and agencies