UNHCR

When women can’t confer nationality on their children equally with men, problems of statelessness grow – UNHCR

As the world’s states consider how to reduce the plague of statelessness, nationality laws come increasingly under the microscope. That’s because if a child can only take on the nationality of their father, and the father is unknown or dies or disappears before a child is officially registered as his, then the child could well be doomed to a life without nationality or citizenship. Thus, ensuring that there is equality between women and men when it comes to conferring nationality on children, would help greatly in reducing statelessness around the world.

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Nationality laws often seem random in the way that nationality, and thus citizenship, is conferred on children.

Take the case of the Bahamas, one of two states in the Caribbean that don’t allow women to confer nationality on their children on the same terms as fathers.

What about the children?

This year, World Refugee Day focuses particularly on the right of displaced people to be safe. But what does that mean for children? Laura Buffoni, senior community-based protection officer of the UNHCR’s regional bureau for Southern Africa, sat down for an interview with Justice in Africa to share some ideas and information with readers, starting with this statistic: globally, as well as in this region, women and children make up some 80% of the displaced population.

Laura Buffoni, senior community-based protection officer of the UNHCR’s regional bureau for Southern Africa:

This is an issue I’m passionate about. In my job as community-based protection officer I advise colleagues about child protection and gender equality and gender-based violence, among other subjects.

When we consider ‘safety’, the theme of this year’s World Refugee Day, we need to translate that term and think what is means for a child.

Don’t trade people fleeing war ‘like commodities’ – UNHCR

The UN High Commission for Refugees has issued a strongly-worded statement condemning attempts by the UK government to fly asylum-seekers to Rwanda. And while the UK courts have rejected attempts to halt the flights, the European Court of Human Rights has unexpectedly intervened to halt the first scheduled removal of asylum-seekers at least until July. The result has been to raise the international profile of the dangers and difficulties involved in asylum-seeking.

As UK government attempts to deport a first group of asylum seekers to Rwanda clash with local efforts to have the courts approve legal objections to the scheme, the UN’s refugee agency has spoken out strongly against the UK’s plan.

The UK should not be trying to ‘shift asylum responsibilities’ and ‘evade international obligations’, the UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for protection, Gilliam Triggs has said.

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