Africa: statelessness is still a reality

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Many without a birth certificate find it difficult to have access to formal education. These people are therefore at risk of statelessness. This means that no state will recognise them as nationals.

And many of them suffer from this situation in Togo as elsewhere in the world. It is therefore impossible for them to exercise their fundamental rights such as access to basic services, including education, health care and employment opportunities. Stateless people find themselves marginalised, discriminated against and particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

Boniface Yepenui has experienced this. Born in Togo and without papers, he had no way of proving his connection to his country of birth. "The impact this had on me was that it delayed my studies. I wanted to join the army but I couldn't because I didn't have a certificate of nationality. It was after enormous difficulties that I was able to get my birth certificate," he explains.

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, at least 1 million people are stateless in West Africa. To counter the phenomenon, 13 countries in the region have ratified the international conventions on statelessness, but there are still obstacles.

_"I think countries are looking at the issues that are problematic. They talked about the procedures and administrative barriers that exist in different countries. They also talked about the reluctance to grant identity cards to some people, as well as the reluctance to issue birth certificates in some regions." said Monique Ekoko, _UNHCR representative inTogo.

Some ten million people worldwide are without nationality. world. The UN refugee agency agency aims to eradicate this scourge by 2024.

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