- PPI World Desk
New York: From the world global population, a minimum of 4.2 million in 94 countries are believed to be stateless, according to data from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Amidst the pandemic, millions of stateless people are feared to be missed out on vaccination, since they don’t hold any proof of identity or lack citizenship, the UNHCR warns today.
Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s International Protection chief said, “There are millions known to be stateless around the world, without the nationality of any state. This has hugely damaging impacts on their fundamental human rights, and now they may also be excluded from accessing life-saving vaccinations.”
The agency, in its latest update on The Impact of Covid-19 on Stateless Populations states, that most immunization plans by Governments don’t include the vaccine coverage of people being stateless. Special efforts have to be made to reach out to stateless people and address their problems, since they lack of documents proofing their nationality or identity. The new report by the UNHCR provides solutions for states and recommendations in this regard, including alternative ways of proofing the identity of a person.
Gillian Triggs said, “In the interest of protecting people’s lives and securing public health, national vaccination plans must be implemented in as inclusive a manner as possible. Given that many stateless people already face widespread exclusion and marginalization, barriers to access must be addressed and special consideration given to their situation.”
Many stateless people face increasingly problems in accessing social and health services amidst the pandemic. Due to their lack of social status, many hesitate to approach testing facilities or go for treatment, out of fear to be deported or put in detention centres. For the stateless people medical expenses, including vaccination are unaffordable since they are not covered by public healthcare schemes.
The UNHCR is committed to protect stateless people, to prevent statelessness and reduce it. Because of the pandemic, birth registration services are disrupted, which may increase the risk of statelessness. Some nations have suspended their civil registration services since the breakout of the pandemic, which is crucial to establish eligibility for nationality. As a result, many of those countries who suspended birth registration services, report a low birth rate. Even birth registration campaigns targeting populations in remote areas, which are at risk of statelessness have been stopped.
Minority groups are among the most vulnerable risking statelessness, so far they build the majority of the present stateless population worldwide, as reported by the UNHCR.