Stateless people are vulnerable to radicalization: UN refugee agency

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/5/10 7:56:17

Persons who lack legal identity, including a nationality, are more vulnerable to radicalization, said an official of the UN refugee agency on Tuesday. Volker Turk, the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said this as he addressed ministers from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Banjul.

"I want to underscore that the right to a legal identity is also a matter of state security, particular at a time such as this when the ECOWAS member states have legitimate concerns about the protection of their citizens in the face of growing threats," he said.

"Persons who lack legal identity, including a nationality, are more vulnerable to radicalization, exploitation and abuse including recruitment by armed groups due to their marginalization from society. Such persons are also more difficult to identify," added Turk.

He noted the situations of statelessness that remain unaddressed may contribute to inter-communal tensions or lead to forced displacement.

The ministerial meeting seeks to put an end to the scourge of statelessness, which affects more than 10 million people worldwide, including over 1 million in West Africa.

"This is a clear signal underlying the Gambia's renewed commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights, including both its commitment to the protection to eradicate statelessness and its recognition of the fundamental importance of this cause as a regional and continental priority," he said.

According to him, statelessness impedes access to the most fundamental rights and services and prevents people from participating fully in society.

"Denying someone their right to a nationality creates suffering, exclusion and marginalization. Ensuring that all persons have a nationality helps build social cohesion and integration and enables societies to capitalize on the capacities and talents of all its members," he precised.

The regional ministerial meeting on statelessness in West Africa is expected to validate an eight-year draft Plan of Action that seeks to end the statelessness by 2024.


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