• Birth Registration in Turkey: Protecting the Future for Syrian Children 04/29/2015
    There are millions of Syrians today who are living without a home. Almost 12 million women, men, and children are displaced either inside or outside of Syria. But within this population, there are tens of thousands for whom “home” is challenging even to define. These are the babies born to those displaced Syrians. In Turkey, where an RI team studied the issue in March, more than 60,000 Syrian babies have been born in exile, and these numbers will continue to increase as the civil war rages on. None of the neighboring countries hosting Syrian refugees, including Turkey, provide citizenship just because a child was born in its territory. Even if a birth is recorded, Syrian nationality law only permits Syrian fathers to transmit citizenship, with very few exceptions. Tens of thousands of Syrian fathers are dead, missing, or fighting in the civil war. In their absence, children born in exile since the war began, and even some of those born in Syria, may not be able to assert their Syrian citizenship if and when they are able to return home.
  • Myanmar: A Tipping Point for Rohingya Rights? 11/17/2014
    Two years after a wave of violence hit the region, Myanmar’s Rakhine State has become a segregated zone. Two million ethnic Rakhine live apart from 1.2 million stateless Rohingya, who are trapped inside displacement camps or barred from leaving their villages. Ending this segregation and protecting the rights of the Rohingya are necessary components of Myanmar’s move toward democracy.
  • Myanmar: Act Immediately to Protect Displaced People's Rights 03/17/2014
    As Myanmar continues its renewed engagement with the international community, it must begin to address the serious violations of the rights of ethnic minorities that plague the country. It is time for the international community to change its ad hoc approach to Myanmar. Key donors and the United Nations must coordinate their advocacy and use consistent messaging to push the Myanmar government to address the root causes of the abuses suffered by ethnic minorities.
  • Myanmar: Protecting Minority Rights Is Non-Negotiable 05/29/2013
    In its rush to normalize relations with Myanmar, the international community – particularly the United Nations – must not ignore the increase in abuses being committed against ethnic minorities in Rakhine and Kachin States, and it must take a stronger stance in defense of the human rights of affected populations. Ten months after violence forced them into displacement camps in central Rakhine State, Rohingyas are living in fear of multiple dangers: flooding and disease caused by the rainy season, indefinite periods of displacement and segregation and the consolidation of ethnic cleansing, arbitrary arrests, being forced by officials to sign away their rights to citizenship, and a lack of protection from further attacks. Meanwhile, in Kachin State, a peace agreement remains out of reach almost two years after conflict there resumed. Roughly 100,000 people are stuck in displacement camps, and international humanitarian agencies are being denied access to the tens of thousands living in non-government controlled areas.
  • Rohingya in Burma: Spotlight on Current Crisis Offers Opportunity for Progress 10/30/2012
    Despite an abundance of natural resources, Rakhine State is the second-poorest state in Burma. The simmering tension that exists between the Rakhine and stateless Rohingya communities has been stoked by poverty for decades. However, in June 2012 that tension boiled over. What began as inter-communal violence was followed by a wave of state-sponsored persecution of the Rohingya, along with a refusal to allow humanitarian agencies access to the northern part of the state, where the majority of Rohingya live. In October, Rohingya and other Muslim communities were attacked again, resulting in the destruction of thousands of houses, the displacement of tens of thousands of people, and an unknown number of deaths. In the state capital, Sittwe, tens of thousands of displaced Rohingya are now living in segregated, squalid camps outside of town and cut off from their livelihoods. The conflict has brought much-deserved international attention to the long-neglected situation of Burma’s Rohingya. The fact that it is taking place during a period of dramatic change in the country’s governance presents the world with a chance to finally put an end to discrimination against the Rohingya and restore their citizenship.
  • Rohingya in Bangladesh: Maintaining the Status Quo; Squandering a Rare Opportunity 10/30/2012
    For decades, Burmese Rohingya fleeing persecution have sought refuge in Bangladesh. June’s inter-communal violence in Burma’s Rakhine State, as well as subsequent state-sponsored persecution and targeted attacks against Muslim populations, have cast an international spotlight on this neglected population, and offered an opportunity to resolve the status of both stateless Rohingya inside Burma and those Rohingya who are refugees in neighboring countries. This could be an opportunity for Bangladesh to engage fully on this issue and develop its long-awaited refugee policy. Instead, the nation is rallying against the Rohingya by refusing entry to refugees and restricting humanitarian assistance. This response, besides representing a breach of international law, will weaken Bangladesh’s ability to secure international support as discussions of the Rohingya's plight intensify. The governments of Bangladesh and Burma should be engaging in bilateral - and perhaps multilateral - discussions about how to protect the rights of the Rohingya community.
  • South Sudan Nationality: Commitment Now Avoids Conflict Later 05/25/2012
    As the newest nation in the world, the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS) is undertaking the monumental task of building a nation state. Creating a functioning government would be an epic challenge for any country, but it is even greater for RoSS because it is faced with millions of displaced people, internal and external conflict, widespread food insecurity, a stagnant economy, and a population that includes dozens of tribes, ethnicities, indigenous communities and identities. The situation is further complicated by the internal conflict that re-ignited in South Sudan following the decades-long civil war. During the war, southerners were pitted against a common enemy in Khartoum. Now, absent that enemy, competing tribal and ethnic interests are fueling internal conflict, such as in Jonglei state. To ensure the successful transition of RoSS to a functioning nation, an identity must emerge that trumps all these competing interests. Citizenship should be based on place of birth or familial origin without any regard to the person’s color, faith, tribe, ethnicity, or other attribute.
  • Kuwait: Bidoon Nationality Demands Can’t Be Silenced 03/05/2012
    As many as 100,000 people living in Kuwait are stateless. Called “bidoon” over the last twelve months thousands have been gathering peacefully in Taima Square to insist that the government recognize their Kuwaiti nationality. Tear gas, rubber bullets, and beatings have all been used to quell the demonstrators. Refugees International (RI) is calling on the Government of Kuwait to refrain from any further use of violence and to investigate serious allegations of abuse by special security forces. As well, pending applications for nationality filed by the stateless bidoon should be fairly and transparently adjudicated as a matter of priority.
  • Burma: An Opportunity to Expand Humanitarian Space 01/11/2012
    After nearly 50 years of brutal military rule, Burma is embarking upon a landmark transition to civilian administration. The country has seen some promising political reforms. But the world’s longest civil war, coupled with natural disasters within the country, has created serious humanitarian needs which still persist. Recently, the Burmese government has demonstrated a willingness to cooperate with humanitarian agencies. The international community must seize this opportunity to ensure that the needs of the displaced are met, the military’s abuse of human rights are stemmed, and ethnic conflicts progress toward peaceful resolution. Only by addressing both political reform and ethnic conflict will policymakers be able to break the cycles of violence that have gripped the people of Burma.
  • Kuwait: Gender Discrimination Creates Statelessness and Endangers Families 10/17/2011
    Gender discrimination in Kuwait’s nationality laws increases the incidence of statelessness by rendering children of Kuwaiti women and bidoon men stateless. Statelessness exposes women to heightened risks of abuse and exploitation. It also endangers family life.
  • Latvia: The Perilous State of Nationality Rights 01/31/2011
    Two decades after Latvia reasserted its independence during the breakup of the former Soviet Union, references to its traumatic past still surface in the media and during political debates. Often the Russian-speaking minority is blamed for the crimes of the Soviet regime. Divisive rhetoric of us and them reflects social schisms based on ethno-centric power-grabbing and vilification of “the other.” In the mid 1990s, the Latvian government created a category of “non-citizens”, which continues to impede hundreds of thousands of people from enjoying their right to a nationality. This status should be abolished, and Russian-speaking Latvians should be provided the same rights as other citizens, including the right to vote.  
  • República Dominicana: Nuevas oportunidades para el cambio 10/13/2010
    La solidaridad impresionante de la República Dominicana tras el terremoto de enero en el vecino país de Haití ya ha conducido a mejores relaciones entre ambos países, que deben mantenerse con la celebración de un acuerdo bilateral sobre política migratoria que respete los derechos humanos. El Gobierno de la República Dominicana debería establecer el reglamento, largamente esperado, de la Ley de Migración de 2004 e instituir un proceso transparente de regularización que abra el camino para la legalización de los extranjeros que han vivido en la República Dominicana durante mucho tiempo. A pesar de los avances en las relaciones con Haití, el Gobierno de la República Dominicana continúa privando ilegalmente a los dominicanos de ascendencia haitiana de su nacionalidad, aumentando así la apatridia. Es necesario cambiar esta política.
  • Dominican Republic: New Chances for Change 10/13/2010
    The impressive solidarity demonstrated by the Dominican Republic in the aftermath of the January earthquake in neighboring Haiti already has led to improved relations between the countries. This must be sustained by reaching bilateral agreement on a migration policy which respects human rights. The Dominican Government should pass the long-awaited regulations for the 2004 Migration Law and put in place a transparent regularization process that gives a path to legal status to foreigners who have lived in the DR for long periods. Despite advances in relations with Haiti the Dominican Government continues to illegally strip Dominicans of Haitian descent of their nationality and is thus increasing statelessness. This policy must be changed.
  • Kuwait: Still Stalling on Statelessness 05/12/2010
    The government of Kuwait continues to balk at granting nationality to its approximately 90,000 stateless residents, or bidoon. Lack of legal status impacts all areas of their lives. Kuwait must begin immediate and transparent reviews of all bidoon cases towards providing naturalization. Meanwhile Kuwait should guarantee the bidoon the right to work and earn equitable incomes, allow their children to enroll in public schools, provide them healthcare free of charge, and issue certificates that record births, marriages, and deaths. With Kuwait about to enter the UN Universal Periodic Review process on May 12, other states have an immediate opportunity to press the country to take these steps to address the statelessness problem.
  • Statelessness: International Blind Spot Linked to Global Concerns 09/02/2009
    When world leaders gather to address hot issues such as security, governance, poverty, discrimination, human trafficking, and climate change, they invariably skirt around one of the problems that links them all: statelessness. Taking steps to uphold the nationality rights of the more than 12 million stateless persons around the world could go a long way toward responding to these inter-related challenges.
  • Rohingya: Burma’s Forgotten Minority 12/18/2008
    Among Burma’s ethnic minorities, the Rohingya, a stateless population, stand out for their particularly harsh treatment by Burmese authorities and their invisibility as a persecuted minority.  Despite decades of severe repression, there has been minimal international response to the needs of this extremely vulnerable population compared to other Burmese refugees.
  • Bangladesh: Maintain Momentum to Guarantee Citizenship Rights 09/25/2008
    For the first time since Bangladesh gained independence in 1971, Urdu speaking minorities will be eligible to vote in December’s parliamentary elections. A High Court judgment last May confirmed the group’s rights to Bangladeshi citizenship, ending nearly four decades of political and socio-economic exclusion.
  • Kuwait: Honor Nationality Rights of the Bidun 09/17/2008
    Kuwait must begin immediate and transparent reviews of all bidun cases towards providing naturalization and at the same time consider undertaking a tolerance campaign to address discrimination in the society at large. Kuwait should provide civil registry and social services equitably, particularly ensuring that birth certificates, inclusive of name, are provided for all children. The Government of Kuwait must move to resolve statelessness within its borders.
  • Ethiopia-Eritrea: Stalemate Takes Toll on Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean Origin 05/30/2008
    Despite strong historic and ethnic ties, relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia have rarely been smooth. As a result, and particularly over the past decade, nationality rights of residents of both countries have been at risk.
  • Dominican Republic: Time to Move Forward to Resolve Statelessness 05/28/2008
    On May 16, President Leonel Fernandez won a further term in office using the electoral slogan "Pa'lante" ("moving forward") with a campaign message of modernization and development for the country. But the Dominican Republic is not utilizing all its human resources to move forward. An illegal retroactive application of nationality laws is leaving increasing numbers of Dominicans of Haitian descent functionally stateless.