Statelessness affects some 15 million people around the world, from the Kenyan Nubians in Africa to the Thailand Hill Tribes in Asia to Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Caribbean. Many stateless people have never crossed a border or left their country of birth. Yet while the problems related to statelessness may manifest themselves differently, at root is a group of people who have been denied a legal identity. The following are a few of their stories.
Nearly a quarter of a million Rohingya fled into neighboring Bangladesh in hopes of escaping their persecution in Burma. The government of Bangladesh declared the Rohingya illegal immigrants and placed them in refugee camps.
Without official identification documents or legal claims to their property, Roma families in the Balkans encounter enormous obstacles. Their problems have only been exacerbated by the decades of conflict that have plagued the region.
For Dominicans of Haitian descent, obtaining proof of citizenship—required for everything from education to employment to voting—has become a legal and bureaucratic impossibility.
In 1989, Mauritania’s Arab-dominated government revoked the citizenship of an estimated 75,000 black Africans. Many have been stranded in refugee camps ever since.