News on migration and asylum from around the region - Nouvelles de la région sur les questions de migration et d'asile

Friday, January 30, 2015

[AFRICA] UNHCR: African Union and UNHCR push for the right to nationality in Africa

29 January 2015

'A protocol on the right to nationality will strengthen democracy, regional integration, and reduce conflict in Africa', a new report states
Addis Ababa, 29 January 2015- According to a new report launched by President Alassane Ouattara from Côte d'Ivoire and UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, gaps in the citizenship laws of many African States mean that they do not guarantee the right to a nationality for everyone. Gaps in nationality laws and discriminatory legal provisions in some countries are often further compounded by a range of issues, such as changing of State borders and the practice of pastoralism and other population migrations on the continent. As a result, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Africans whose legal existence is jeopardised by the fact that they are not recognised as nationals of at least one country or are simply stateless.
"Stateless individuals and every other person in similar situation expect from our leaders nothing but the political will to translate their concerns into concrete reality," said Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the AUC.
The report, published by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights notes that reforms of nationality laws and documentation procedures are necessary to ensure that everyone enjoys the right to a nationality in Africa. Lack of nationality often means that the people concerned do not have the right to vote, are deprived of access to public services, including education and health care. They may not be able to leave and enter their country since they do not have travel documents.
"It is disturbing to note that in the 21st century Africa, hundreds of thousands of people are denied even the right to exist, not because they are not Africans, but because some people in power say they do not deserve to be; and the fact that their primary right to exist, is discriminately applied, means that the willful act of impoverishment is systematically being perpetrated, and we need to put a stop to this," said Mrs. Maya Fadel-Sahli, Commissioner for ACHPR and Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa.