Futures Denied: Statelessness Among Infants, Children, and Youth

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
M. Lynch, Refugees International

Statelessness, or the lack of effective nationality, impacts the daily lives of some 11-12 million people around the world. Perhaps those who suffer most are stateless infants, children and youth. Though born and raised in their parents' country of habitual residence, they lack formal recognition of their existence. The goal of this report, which is dedicated to the promise and potential of all children, is increased recognition of every child's right to a nationality and the actions that can be taken to give them a brighter future. When state systems linked to registration are destroyed during conflict or disasters, people may lose access to their birth records and citizenship documents. Families who leave homes and possessions during political crises may flee without identification or lose proof of citizenship. It can also be difficult for children to acquire their parents' nationality when refugee mothers give birth outside their home countries. In addition, countries that determine citizenship exclusively by the father's nationality create problems for children born out of wedlock, separated from their fathers, or whose fathers are stateless. Unlike refugees, stateless children receive neither international recognition nor aid, and they don't have the option of returning to a country of origin like migrants do.

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Futures Denied, Lynch, Oct 2008