SENEGAL: UN urges West African Nations to End ‘Disease’ of Statelessness

DAKAR NOVEMBER 3, 2015 (CISA) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that better laws, concrete data and widespread education are needed to tackle the “disease” of statelessness that affect the lives of more than a million people across West Africa.

“Statelessness is like a disease, you pass it on to your children. If you are born stateless, you start life in poverty and will never have the means to break this vicious cycle,” said UNHCR senior regional protection officer Emmanuelle Mitte, Reuters Reported.

According to the UN Agency, stateless people are denied basic human rights and are often unable to work, have access healthcare or send their children to school.

One year ago, the UNHCR launched a campaign to end the plight of at least 10 million stateless people with no country to call home within a decade.

Many people in West Africa are left stateless by laws which prevent women passing their nationality to their children and a lack of birth registrations, Mitte said, adding that an absence of data and education hinder efforts to combat statelessness, she said.

“So the one million figure for West Africa is just the tip of the iceberg,” Mitte said.

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