Millions without passports and without rights: corona pandemic worsens the situation of stateless persons

4.2 million stateless persons have been registered, about ten million are suspected – the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung presented an ‘Atlas of Stateless Persons’ on Thursday, in which she pointed out the fate of a population group in many countries around the world in different ways. being discriminated against is affected.

Millions of people do not have nationality through no fault of their own, said Daniela Trochowski, general manager of the Berlin foundation.

In many individual examples, the Foundation Close to the Left documents how stateless persons are excluded from travel rights, the labor market, suffrage and healthcare. And how the situation in the corona crisis is deteriorating because those affected are excluded from testing options in many countries, for example.

Other, in some cases dramatic, developments according to the research: when the borders are completely closed, there are no longer regular refuge and asylum options. Many stateless persons have become unemployed as a result of the lockdown measures.

Risk of forced prostitution and child marriage

Stateless women and girls who earn nothing else due to the pandemic run the risk of being forced into prostitution and child marriage. Authoritarian regimes could use the corona crisis to track stateless people more closely.

According to the 68-page analysis, half of those affected live in four countries: Ivory Coast, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand. But also in other countries, such as the small Baltic Republic of Latvia or in Syria, a country with a civil war, a disproportionate number of stateless persons is registered in terms of population.

In Lebanon, mothers in particular are discriminated against in households with stateless persons. A summary of the report will be added to the “taz” and “Neues Deutschland” on Saturday.

Roma affected in many European countries

The backgrounds of statelessness are very diverse. In very few cases are refugees. Roma are particularly affected in many Central and Eastern European countries, Palestinians in Syria, for example, and nomads in West and Central African countries. And especially the Rohingya in Myanmar, who are excluded as a Muslim minority there.

In the three Baltic countries, after the collapse of the USSR, the reconstruction of the nation-states and their national identity had begun – with different strategies regarding citizenship.

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In Latvia alone, more than 200,000 stateless persons are registered, more than one in ten of the country’s residents.

According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, the number of unreported cases of stateless persons is significant in many African countries, in China and in America. In the US, citizenship should no longer be a matter of course for children born in the country, it is said.

About half of all countries do not collect data

About half of all UN member states do not collect data on stateless persons. Matthias Reuss, who works for UNHCR in the Asia-Pacific region, said that in a strong rule of law like Germany, the situation for stateless persons “is not as dramatic as in other countries where no one can rely on human rights”. In many countries there are “extreme violations of human rights” in dealing with stateless persons.

It is a development with a long history: with the rise of the nation states in the 19th century, the non-naturalization of the native population began, with the First World War, emigration began.

Prominent stateless persons are cited as examples – Germans like Willy Brandt, Bertolt Brecht, Hannah Arendt or Kurt Tucholsky, who were expelled by the Nazi regime from 1933, Charles Aznavour as son of Armenian stateless parents, the writer Milan Kundera, who died in the late 1970s. human rights activist was expatriated by the CSSR. Or Karl Marx, who granted his Prussian citizenship in Paris in 1845 due to the risk of extradition.

“There are many reasons why people are stateless,” writes Dagmar Enkmann, president of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, in the foreword to the study. She says the consequences for those affected are as varied as they are far-reaching: “Stateless persons are people who are particularly vulnerable because no state protects them and they do not have access to fundamental rights.”

Society and the international community of states are far from the fact that the “right to rights” is a guideline in everyday consciousness and in political action.

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