- Title: U.N. refugee agency takes up case of thousands of potential stateless in India
- Date: 2nd October 2019
- Summary: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND (OCTOBER 2, 2019) (REUTERS) NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES, FILIPPO GRANDI, SAYING: "We have since - we have issued a press release I think a few weeks ago - since then, we have had numerous discussions with the government of India. The government of India has assured us that there is due process being put in place for these people to make recourse if their initial response was negative in terms of nationality. Still, you know, we need to see what happens at the end of this process and whether there will be people still exposed to statelessness. That is a concern that we have at the moment." VARIOUS OF JOURNALISTS LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (English) KYRGYZ HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER AND WINNER OF THE 2019 UNHCR NANSEN REFUGEE AWARD, AZIZBEK ASHUROV, SAYING: "Stateless people had no proof of their identity, no papers. They could not go to school, get medical care, marry, own a house, open a bank account, travel or vote. Registering a birth or even a death was impossible. To support their families, they often work illegally and were vulnerable to exploitation. They lived like phantoms among us. Officially, they did not exist." JOURNALISTS LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES, FILIPPO GRANDI, SAYING: "The biggest issue in numeric terms, also in terms of gravity of the (stateless) phenomenon, is certainly the Rohingyas in Myanmar." NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS U.N. FLAG AND SPHERE U.N. FLAG
- Embargoed: 16th October 2019 13:17
- Keywords: India U.N. refugee agency UNHCR state of Assam citizenship statelessness
- Location: BARPETA & GOALPARA, ASSAM, INDIA / GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- City: BARPETA & GOALPARA, ASSAM, INDIA / GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- Country: Switzerland
- Topics: Fundamental Rights/Civil Liberties,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA004AZENOZR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The U.N. refugee agency said on Wednesday (October 2) it was holding talks with India about its citizenship register in the border state of Assam amid concerns it could leave millions - many of them Muslims - joining the ranks of the world's stateless.
Nearly 2 million people were left off a list of citizens released on Aug. 31 in the northeastern state of Assam, after a mammoth years-long exercise to check illegal immigration from neighbouring Muslim-majority Bangladesh.
Those excluded had 120 days to prove their citizenship at hundreds of regional quasi-judicial bodies known as foreigners' tribunals. If ruled to be illegal immigrants there, they can appeal to higher courts.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said on Wednesday he was concerned that India's move could lead to statelessness for some people and that the U.N. has engaged discussions with the Indian authority on the matter.
The U.N. refugee agency is mid-way through a 10-year campaign to reduce statelessness worldwide, which it estimated in 2014 affected some 10 million people.
The agency announced on Wednesday that Kyrgyz human rights lawyer Azizbek Ashurov had won its prestigious annual Nansen Refugee Award for helping more than 10,000 people to gain Kyrgyz nationality after becoming stateless when the Soviet Union broke up.
Grandi said the most serious crisis of statelessness remains the Rohingya.
More than 730,000 Rohingya, a mostly stateless Muslim minority, fled Myanmar after a military crackdown in August 2017, which the U.N. has said could amount to genocide. Many now live in camps in Bangladesh awaiting conditions for return to Rakhine state.
(Production: Cecile Mantovani)
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