Sekou Saho told journalists at the start of a two-day UNHCR media forum on statelessness Wednesday: “UNHCR’s High Commissioner’s global campaign to eradicate statelessness in the coming ten years was launched in November. The campaign encourages states to develop and adopt their own action plans to end statelessness by 2024. Ecowas and UNHCR are organising a regional ministerial meeting at the beginning of 2015. It is our hope that The Gambia would have adopted its plan of action which it can proudly share with other countries. Apart from the misery caused to [stateless] people themselves, the effect of marginalising whole groups of people across generations creates great stress in the societies they live in and is sometimes a source of conflict. The international community therefore has developed two treaties to regulate and improve the status of stateless persons and to prevent statelessness. You will be happy that The Gambia has ratified the two conventions. Even though the ratification is a good thing, it needs to be followed by an action which is the implementation of what has been ratified.
“In UNHCR parlance, statelessness is lack of nationality. Where nationality is the legal bond between a person and a state, lacking it denies the person not only a sense of identity but more importantly, the ability to exercise a wide range of rights associated with the nationality status. Therefore, lack of nationality or statelessness can be harmful and in some cases devastating to the life of the individual concerned. Similarly, statelessness prevents people from fulfilling their potentials, which have a huge effect on social cohesion and stability. If the international community fails to address statelessness or make efforts to prevent it, the problems will certainly become self-perpetuating because stateless parents cannot pass a nationality on to their children. In some countries, if you don’t an identity card, you don’t exist. Therefore, these people need protection and care, wherever they may be, and statelessness needs to be prevented and reduced everywhere in the world.”]]>