6 million stateless children are innocent victims of discrimination and political indifference claims new report
London, 2 February - A child is being born without nationality somewhere in the world every 10 minutes. A new report “The World’s stateless” and its sister website (www.worldsstateless.org) launched today by the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion lays bare the fact that there are over 6 million stateless children in the world today, a problem that is present in most countries and all regions in the world.
The report calls for immediate action to address childhood statelessness through mobilisation, advocacy, litigation and other means. Denied nationality, stateless children often miss out on healthcare, education and other basic rights. Statelessness brings immense hardship and anguish to children and their parents alike.
Those like Phra of Thailand, who said “How long will I have to wait to have equal rights to other people? I have been fighting for it my whole life” have endured statelessness too long.
There are a number of a ways in which a child could end up without a nationality. Sometimes statelessness is passed on from stateless parents to their children. Other times, a child fails to acquire a nationality at birth because of a conflict between different nationality laws, or may not be able to prove their legal identity because they were not issued with a birth certificate. Statelessness can also be a problem for some children born to refugees. It can also result from international surrogacy, adoption or where children have been abandoned at birth.
Over the past few years, there has been growing momentum to address statelessness around the world. Today’s publication of more than 70 contributions on the situation of stateless children around the world outlines necessary steps to address childhood statelessness.
Commenting on why the report focuses on children, ISI Co-Director Laura van Waas says:
Childhood statelessness is entirely preventable. It is never a child’s “fault” if they are left without nationality. By focusing on children, we can try to move towards permanent solutions and halting the spread of statelessness. Not only does this allow us to protect children born today, it also helps to lay the groundwork for more comprehensive solutions in the longer term.
As the report’s many contributions make abundantly clear, childhood statelessness is an urgent issue that must be prioritised to prevent further individual harm and damage to society:
Receiving citizenship, our government says, is a privilege—not a right—and I must prove that my daughter is worthy. She’s sassy and smart, sings our national anthem with pride and loves this country very much. But this country has little regard for her.
Tini Zainudin, a Malaysian mother of a stateless child
I wish my country would accept me the way I am. I wish to do so much good for my country when I grow up but the bitterness that is filled I spend my time trying to replace it with positive energy for tomorrow’s possibility. I wish children brought up by single mothers or fathers to be accepted by law as any normal children with both parents. When the child is born in any land he/ she must have the rights to belong to that land and call it a motherland
Stateless child in Nepal
In so many ways, children are the most silent and invisible victims of statelessness. And without a doubt, children have the most to lose by statelessness as well. They represent futures denied. Potential denied. A wealth of amazing contributions to society denied.
Greg Constantine, award winning photographer
· For media enquiries please call Institute on Statelessness co-director Amal de Chickera
email: Amal [dot] dechickera [at] institutesi [dot] org; mobile: +44(0)7507598523
· Photographs of stateless children, artwork, contributors details and full reports are available on request.