by Jewel Stephen
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said it will help Nigeria in providing technical support for the conduct of a national study on statelessness.
Ms Emmanuelle Mitte, the Regional Head of Statelessness Unit of UNHCR in West Africa, while speaking in Hague on Thursday, on the sideline of the First Global Forum on Statelessness, said the study would provide Nigeria and the organisation, the needed legal and administrative frameworks for reducing and preventing issues of statelessness in the country.
According to her, Nigeria presently lacks information on statelessness and stateless persons across the six geo-political zones.
“The UNHCR lacks information on stateless persons in Nigeria. We do not know the category of stateless persons in Nigeria right now.
“We also do not really know the statelessness situation in Nigeria today. So, we want to encourage Nigeria to embark on the study of statelessness and factors of statelessness.
“The UNHCR is willing to help Nigeria get an independent expert on national issues, to conduct a field study on statelessness situation in the country and come up with an accurate report,” she said.
Mitte also expressed her organisation’s readiness to support Nigeria in “mapping out” stateless persons in different communities.
She said it was imperative for Nigeria to conduct the study, to be able to identify the number of stateless persons across the country.
“We need to know that stateless persons have no nationalities and are often marginalised in different countries. They have no access to education, employment, travel documents and other social services. They are in a limbo, invisible, and do not have national identities and rights, and often discriminated against,” she added.
Statelessness is the lack of any nationality, or the absence of a recognized link between an individual and any state.
People become stateless when their state of nationality ceases to exist, or when the territory on which they live came under the control of another state. This was the case when the Soviet Union disintegrated, and also in the cases of Yugoslavia and Ethiopia.