The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, Mark Manly, on Monday urged Nigeria to lead the campaign to end statelessness in West Africa.
He made the appeal as the UNHCR would be launching on November 4, the global campaign aimed at ending statelessness by 2024.
The statelessness refers to the condition whereby an individual or groups of persons have no national identity of any country.
According to UNHCR reports, no fewer than 750,000 people are stateless across the West African sub-region.
Mr. Manly said in Lagos that Nigeria would be instrumental in promoting the campaign to end statelessness in the sub-region.
He said that Nigeria should lead the campaign to restore the nationality of stateless persons and improve national laws to end statelessness in West Africa.
“The UNHCR strongly believes that, Nigeria with her diplomatic weight, can and should have a role to play in the reduction and prevention of statelessness across the West Africa sub-region.
“The UNHCR will, therefore, appreciate the diplomatic role of the Nigerian Government in ending statelessness in its country and other countries in West Africa.
“But Nigeria first needs to look at her nationality laws and other gaps which can lead to more people becoming stateless,’’ he said.
The UNHCR official also advised Nigeria to make necessary reforms in her constitution to be able to accommodate the provision of the UN 1961 Convention on statelessness.
Mr. Manly said that because Nigeria had ratified the Convention, it should play a vital role to play in making other countries in the region move to end statelessness.