UNHCR and Ministry of Interior hold conference in Baghdad to discuss the way forward to end statelessness in Iraq
19 January 2023
Baghdad, Iraq, 18 January 2023 - Thanks to its legal framework to reduce and prevent statelessness, thousands of stateless persons or those at risk of statelessness in Iraq have acquired Iraqi nationality over the years. However, some individuals are still suffering from the impact of not having the nationality of any country - which means they are stateless. While the number of stateless people in the country has been reduced due to efforts made by the Government of Iraq, those without a nationality continue to face significant challenges in accessing their most basic rights, including going to school, seeking professional medical care, getting a job, or registering their marriages or new-borns. Moreover, others remain at risk of being stateless across the country due to, for example, administrative and socio-economic barriers in accessing civil documentation.
To address these remaining barriers, the Ministry of Interior of Iraq and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, held a conference in Baghdad on 18 January to explore solutions for ending statelessness, and preventing future instances of statelessness, not least by scaling up nationwide efforts to facilitate access to civil documentation.
In line with UNHCR’s Global Action Plan to End Statelessness 2014-2024 and the #IBelong Campaign, UNHCR Iraq is accelerating efforts to support the Government in ensuring that all eligible individuals can acquire Iraqi nationality and to improve access to civil documents across the country.
In an attempt to better understand the remaining barriers faced by some, including those related to securing Iraqi nationality and documents, UNHCR and its partner, Legal Clinics Network (LCN), conducted a detailed study in 2021 on Faili Kurds and Bidoons, two of the main population groups affected by statelessness, for which the Government has made considerable progress in resolving their stateless status. In fact, Iraq achieved the world’s largest reduction of statelessness in a single year (over 100,000 persons) in 2010. The study provides an overview of the remaining obstacles for those eligible to acquire Iraqi nationality and secure relevant civil documents. Furthermore, it informs measures that will be taken to end statelessness amongst known stateless groups able to access Iraqi nationality by the end of 2023. Another study is ongoing to look at other groups that may be stateless or at risk of statelessness, with further actions to be informed by the results of the study.
“Stateless people are often invisible to the communities in which they live. They have difficulties accessing basic public services, such as enrolling their children in schools or receiving medical care. The remaining barriers to their recognition as Iraqi citizens can be easily addressed,” said Jean-Nicolas Beuze, Representative of UNHCR in Iraq. “Iraq is on the right track towards ending statelessness by the end of 2023 amongst known stateless populations able to access Iraqi nationality. We are fully committed to making it a reality by supporting the authorities’ efforts to ensure that every Iraqi citizen is recognized as a member of the Iraqi community.”
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