How Nigeria plans to end statelessness – Minister

#EXCOM2019: The Deputy Secretary General United Nations, Amina Mohammed and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar
#EXCOM2019: The Deputy Secretary General United Nations, Amina Mohammed and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar, has expressed the Nigerian government’s commitment to end statelessness by tackling gender-based violence in the country.

She said the government is determined to end statelessness ”by developing regulations to eliminate gender-based discrimination”.

She made this known on Thursday when she led a Nigerian delegation to address a high-level segment on statelessness at the ongoing 70th Executive Committee (ExCom) session of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees programme in Geneva, Switzerland.

Statelessness occurs for several reasons, including discrimination against particular ethnic or religious groups, or on the basis of gender; the emergence of new States and transfers of territory between existing States; and gaps in nationality laws.

According to a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES, the Minister in her presentation gave an overview of statelessness in Nigeria.

She stated that it dates back to the ceding of the Bakassi Penninsula to Cameroon ”which left the inhabitants of the peninsula uncertain of their citizenship and more recently the Boko Haram insurgency which has led to mass displacements of persons”.

The statement quotes Ms Umar as saying: “Nigeria ratified the 1954 Convention related to the status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 convention on the reduction of Statelessness.

“The two being the key International conventions that address Statelessness and are backed by international human right treaties and provisions.

“Similarly, Nigeria signed the Abidjan declaration on the eradication of Statelessness in ECOWAS member States. This led to the development of the National Action Plan to eradicate Statelessness in Nigeria.”

Ms Umar further disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari ”had endorsed five pledges to end statelessness in Nigeria”.

”By 2020, Nigeria commits to introduce regulations for the registration of offspring of naturalised citizens as Nigerians.

“By 2020, Nigeria commits to establishing a Statelessness Determination Procedure to identify stateless persons, grant protection status and facilitate appropriate solutions.

“By mid-2021, Nigeria commits to publishing a qualitative study, with a view to finding solutions.

“By 2024, scale-up issuance of birth registration and national identity numbers, including to IDPs, refugees and returnees, thereby providing civil registration and documentation to reduce risk of statelessness,” she said inter alia.

She explained that the legal reforms will ensure ”no child is born stateless and gender discrimination is removed from nationality laws”.

ExCom, the UNHCR’s Executive Committee, meets every year in Geneva to review and approve the agency’s programmes while discussing other issues with intergovernmental and non-governmental partners

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