Sudanese risk statelessness – UNHCR

2011-08-26 11:03
London - Large Sudanese communities could become stateless, deprived of basic rights such as access to jobs and education, unless Khartoum and Juba ensure citizenship for all following South Sudan's independence, the UN refugee chief said on Thursday.

Khartoum has excluded dual nationality for southerners, and last month Sudan's parliament gave initial approval to cancel the citizenship of anyone taking up South Sudanese nationality after South Sudan became independent on July 09.

The move highlights the legal uncertainty of hundreds of thousands of southerners who have been living in the north for decades. Analysts say the question of citizenship could raise new tensions between the two sides that ended a two-decade war in 2005 and have yet to finalise their border.

The issue is of particular concern for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), which launched a campaign on Thursday to highlight the plight of an estimated 12 million stateless people around the world. They do not exist on paper and are not considered nationals by any country.

"We are afraid that many people that had established long-lasting relationships in the north [of Sudan] and have very few contacts in the south might fall through the cracks if their nationality is not recognised [by either state]," the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, told AlertNet in an interview.

Guterres said UNHCR was working with both sides to make sure that every Sudanese was granted a nationality "to avoid what has happened, for instance, with the break-up of the Soviet Union in the past".

Statelessness exacerbates poverty, creates social tensions and can divide families. The problem is most widespread in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, UNHCR said.


Yet only 66 countries are parties to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, and only 38 countries have signed the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness which marks its 50th anniversary on August 30.

"That shows not only how difficult it has been to raise awareness in relation to the problem, but also some resistance of states because this deals with the heart of the concept of sovereignty - nationality laws which, to a certain extent, are sometimes responsible for the existence of statelessness," Guterres said.

And yet there was a compelling humanitarian argument for states to sign up to the conventions, he added, citing the "dramatic circumstances" in which many stateless people lived.

"Can you imagine that you are now living in the slums of a city in the developing world? That you have no nationality, no ID card?" Guterres said. "You cannot send your children to school, you have no access to official medical services, you do not have the right to work, to own property. That you can be jailed and forgotten in jail."

The other argument being used to persuade governments to sign up was financial, he said. Failure to recognise stateless people meant many are unable to contribute to the economy.

Read more on:    un  |  sudan  |  south sudan  |  east africa

Namibia ready to vote

2014-11-20 21:08

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


10 ways to drive her wild!

Fill her nights with passion and drive her wild with the best sex ever!

Hottie of the day: Angela
10 things you should never say after sex
Guy code: Looking good for the ladies
SA surfer rides massive waves in Maui

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2100 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


There is a strong desire to be unique, self sufficient, right and in control today. Your mind is fast today and you may have more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.