A new study by the Secretariat of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, highlights risks of statelessness for refugees who have spent more than 20 years outside their country of origin, and especially for their descendants born in exile.
The study, “Refugees from Generation to Generation: Preventing Statelessness by Advancing Durable Solutions in the Great Lakes Region”, focused on Rwandan refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Congolese refugees in Rwanda, and South Sudanese and Congolese refugees in Uganda. It was based on surveys and focus group discussions with refugees, as well as on legal and policy analysis and interviews with government officials where possible.
The study found that most long-term refugees lack any identity document from their country of origin and would face huge challenges in re-establishing nationality if they were ever to return to that country. They identify most closely with the country of asylum, and many – though not all – would like to acquire citizenship there. In practice, however, naturalization is impossible to access, while many refugees struggle even to renew their refugee identity documents. Gaps in nationality laws mean that those born in the country of asylum are at especially high risk of statelessness – above all, if their births were not registered. According to the study, only eight percent of the adult long-term refugees surveyed had a birth certificate. Although birth registration rates have improved significantly for children of refugees born in asylum countries, most notably in Rwanda, only 28 percent of adult refugees born in Uganda, and six percent of adults born in the …(click here for more details)