Have you ever thought or considered that some people on this earth have no place to call home, have no country to belong to, and have no national identity? Many people do not known the plight and the difficult situation this people are in. Imagine having no rights or access to education, health care, shelter and infrastructure simply because you do not have any claim to any country or government. No government is responsible for you and none can provide you with much needed security.
These people are referred to as ‘stateless people’ and it is disheartening to learn that there are 10 million stateless people in the world today. Worse still, most of them are children and can pass the state of ‘statelessness’ to future generations.
The Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar, for instance whom I’ve once written about have been denied by the Myanmar Government who claims they are Bangladeshi but the Bangladeshi government has also denied them and this has resulted to no Rohingya child being issued a birth certificate since the mid 90’s. They are practically stateless and live most of their lives as refugees and this has exposed them to so much suffering, difficulty and oppression.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has looked into the plight of these stateless people and have launched a campaign to end statelessness by the year 2024. The campaign is called ‘I Belong’ and the UNHCR has called for ’10 million signatures to change 10 million lives’ and notable people like Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Angelina Jolie have signed the petition.
Experts have said that the target to end statelessness by 2024 is too optimistic, citing many legal and diplomatic obstacles. However, I appeal to the Governments of countries with high numbers of stateless people like Ivory Coast, Thailand , Nepal, Latvia , and the Dominican Republic to help the UN cause to end statelessness, for the good of humanity, to restore hope to millions and to save these vulnerable people from exploitation, detention and slavery.
Written by Olisa Lotenna