By Lamin Cham
A regional action plan to end statelessness in West Africa was yesterday adopted by ministers from the region at a meeting organised by the regional body in collaboration with UNCHR and other international bodies.
The meeting is a follow-up to the Abidjan 2015 meeting where the declaration was made to end the menace in the region.
It is estimated that one million people in West Africa are stateless and the plan of action commits each nation to carry out polices in tandem with international standards to eradicate statelessness in the region before 2024.
Volker Turk, a global expert of statelessness at the UNCHR, said a recent survey has revealed that up 30 percent of people in West Africa don’t have sufficient documentation to prove their nationality and many more are at risk if there continues to be high number of children who do not have certificates.
He noted though that great progress has been made in many countries in the region and assured regional experts and governments of UNCHR’s willingness to work with them on the matter.
The UN envoy to West Africa and the Sahel Mohamed Ibn Chambas reminded the delegation that the Abidjan declaration has highlighted statelessness in Ecowas as a concern as well suggested methods to eradicate it.
He called for the speedy implementation of the plan which he said will contribute to the eradication of statelessness in the region. Earlier, the Minister of Women’s Affairs overseeing the vice president’s office, Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang, opened the meeting with high praises and gratitude from President Adama Barrow for the role of Ecowas played in resolving the Gambia’s recent political impasse and the decision to host the meeting in Banjul, a point highlighted by the welcoming remarks by Interior minister Mai Ahmad Fatty.