COLUMN: The stateless – no place to call home

Having no nationality affects people of all ages and prevents them from accessing vital services in their day-to-day lives.

Earlier this month, the United Nations launched a Campaign to End Statelessness. Statelessness prevents an individual from having a nationality or citizenship in any country.

This crisis currently affects 10 million people around the world. Despite the existence of the UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons (1954) and the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961), this problem still afflicts millions.

The situation affects people of all ages, including children and the elderly, and ultimately prevents them from accessing vital services in their day-to-day lives.

For instance, they face difficulty in regards to accessing education and health care, getting married, or obtaining jobs and financial services, simply because they have been denied the basic right of citizenship.

They can also suffer from disparity in wages and poverty and fall victim to human trafficking. They face the prospect of not being able to participate in government or the democratic process because they lack the ability to vote or become candidates. Children can be born without a nationality if they are born to a stateless parent or if they are not able to produce their documents after being forced to leave their country in a conflict, as is the case for refugees who left Syria.

Stateless individuals face constant obstacles. Because of their lack of citizenship, children are ostracized, may be unable to receive an education, and as they grow up, can have difficulty getting a job, which further prevents them from achieving their goals and aspirations.

Discrimination, conflict, and flawed laws are largely to blame. Women in 27 countries do not have the right to pass on their nationality to their children.

And discrimination can take place against people of a certain race or background, which prevents them from possessing a nationality.

Individuals who are stateless face practical, emotional and psychological hardships. Stateless people can also be put in prison, simply for not having a nationality.

What is important to note in this global problem is that it can be solved. In fact, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan, and Cote d’Ivoire have taken initiatives to help end cases of statelessness in their countries by making changes to laws related to citizenship or through governmental steps.

The 10-year campaign initiated by the UN is meant to urge governments to bring positive changes and prevent and rectify statelessness.

Let’s all support the efforts of the UN and ensure human rights by signing its open letter urging governments to bring change: http://bit.ly/1o8HTak.

No person deserves to live a life where a lack of nationality equals lifelong problems of poverty and rights violations.

Japreet Lehal is a student at Simon Fraser University. He writes regularly for The Leader.

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Canadian police to make home visits to enforce mandatory quarantine for travellers

Police forces have been asked to help verify Canadians are complying with the Quarantine Act

IHIT identifies victim in Surrey shooting homicide

Pritpal Singh, 21, was shot and killed outside of a Surrey home, police say

Cloverdale high school teacher chats about teaching and life during the COVID-19 crisis

Surrey’s Walter van Halst sits down for an informal ‘virtual’ coffee to discuss education’s current new reality

Celebrating Easter in Surrey, during COVID-19

Surrey’s Christian churches rise to the occasion, despite Coronavirus challenges

VIDEO: Easter festivities may be scaled back, but it can still be a fun holiday

COVID-19 circumstances have dictated that the holidays may not be perfect

COVID-19 world update: U.S. to start antibody tests; drones enforce lockdown in Italy

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news from around the world

Lower Mainland hunting store sees 200% increase in firearm sales

Co-owner of Wanstalls says increase due to a variety of reasons

People needing addiction services feeling ‘abandoned’ during pandemic

The province is trying to increase access to addiction care through a phone line of experts, doctors

COVID-19: B.C. ER nurse self-isolates in travel trailer, apart from family

Marcia Kent says situation is difficult but worth it to keep twin boys safe

Cancellations of plant orders prompt advent of pop-up garden shops

A Langley nursery is partnering with local eateries to sell 40 acres of veggie plants and flowers

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Reality TV show about bodybuilders still filming in Okanagan, amid COVID-19

Five bodybuilders from across the country flew to Kelowna to move into a house for a reality TV show

Most Read