UN Campaign to End Statelessness Jilts Palestinians

UNHCR head says their situation requires a separate 'political solution,' AFP reports.

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Displaced people from the minority Yezidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border.
Displaced people from the minority Yezidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border.Credit: Reuters

The United Nations' refugee agency has launched a global campaign to eradicate statelessness within ten years, but did not include Palestinians in the effort, saying their situation requires a separate "political solution."

The agency, UNHCR, estimates that at least ten million people worldwide are stateless and that a baby is born stateless every ten minutes. Its goal is to implement a ten-point plan to get countries to grant citizenship to ethnic minorities and nationality to children who are born stateless.

UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres told reporters in Geneva that the current reality is “absolutely unacceptable” and “an anomaly in the 21st century,” according to AFP.

The new campaign, which got underway Tuesday, is called “I Belong," and it aims to shed light on the “devastating life-long consequences of statelessness.”

Stateless people are often "excluded from cradle to grave, being denied a legal identity when they are born, access to education, health care, marriage and job opportunities during their lifetime and even the dignity of an official burial and a death certificate when they die,” the UNHCR reports said.

The report does not take the Palestinians into account, since the UN General Assembly has recognized Palestine as a state, Guterres said, adding that this “very specific situation” required a “political solution," according to AFP.

South African Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and actress Angelina Jolie are among the notable personalities supporting the campaign by signing an open letter calling for "10 million signatures to change 10 million lives."

Myanmar is home to the largest number of stateless people: It denies citizenship to some one million Rohingya Muslims, according to Guterres.

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