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CRIN - Discrimination

CRIN - Child Rights Information Network

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Stateless children

A complaint is pending with the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child concerning stateless Nubian children in Kenya.

For most of us, citizenship is something we take for granted – a status we rarely think about. Rarely do we reflect on the particular rights and responsibilities that citizenship conveys, and because of this, we often fail to understand the unique problems that non-citizens face. Recognition of nationality serves as the key to a host of other rights, including education, health care, employment, and social services. Because of this, people without effective citizenship– people who are stateless – are among the most vulnerable in the world.

Among the more than 15 million stateless persons around the world, stateless children are among the most vulnerable of all. Given current population trends around the world, it would be fair to assume that at least one third of all stateless persons in the world are minors. The consequences of statelessness among children are numerous and severe.

The consequences of their statelessness often start before they are even born: stateless pregnant women are frequently denied adequate pre-natal as well as post-natal care. As a result, many stateless infants and children do not receive immunizations and other essential medical care – something which can seriously compromise their health. A few years down the line, stateless children are sometimes denied access to primary education, and in most countries around the world secondary education is out of the question. Other key consequences of statelessness for children include greater likelihood of growing up in extreme poverty, restricted freedom of movement, arbitrary deportations, social exclusion, and in some cases greater vulnerability to trafficking and exploitation.

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