Vumba, (Pungwe News-New Ziana)-The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has praised Zimbabwe for embracing the global fight against statelessness.
UNHCR deputy director regional bureau for southern Africa, Leonard Zulu said this during a dialogue with parliamentarians on National and Statelessness on Friday.
The United Nations General Assembly in 2014 launched the campaign to end statelessness by 2024.
According to UN statistics, there are between 10 to 12 million people who are stateless around the world and it is estimated that a child is born stateless every 10 minutes.
“Zimbabwe has already repeatedly demonstrated its capacity and courage by embracing essential reforms. I have no doubt that, as on many other issues, Zimbabwe will demonstrate the leadership and vision necessary to make decisive progress ensuring that no one is at risk of statelessness,” said Zulu.
He reiterated commitment of the UNHCR to ensure that Zimbabwe succeeded in the project, adding “although it’s ambitious, it’s achievable.”
“I can assure you that the UNHCR will do its utmost to support you in this indispensable effort. I am counting on the strong support of Zimbabwe and other SADC member states in helping us to reach that goal, ending statelessness by 2024,” he said, adding “there is strong momentum that makes this ambitious goal possible”.
Zulu said Zimbabwe had an opportunity to develop a comprehensive action plan to prevent statelessness in the country.
“Such a plan is necessary to realize Zimbabwe`s pledges made in October 2019 in Geneva to contribute to ending statelessness globally.
“Ultimately, the concept of “belonging” goes beyond legal texts and identity documents, and requires the political will to promote tolerance and acceptance of the other, and create a social and human space where all members of the society can be recognized and to which they can contribute, and yes belong,” he said.
He said statelessness was an essential issue for human and state security, particularly in a region that was legitimately concerned about protection of its citizens in the face of rising security threats.
“Perhaps even more serious, depriving persons of a nationality constitutes for the country a missed opportunity for development and prosperity. Ensuring that everyone can enjoy their right to a State, also allows a State to rely on the potential and talents of hundreds of thousands of people who would otherwise be marginalized and excluded,” said Zulu.
He said UNHCR`s goal to end statelessness was a central element of the IBELONG campaign, adding “it guides States effort”.
“The first country in the world to have adopt a national action plan was an African state, Benin. It was followed by many others in Africa and the rest of the world,” said Zulu.
Across Africa, Zulu said, there was an increased awareness of the importance of the right to nationality, with a growing number of adoption of action plans to end statelessness, nationality reforms, and a rise in birth registration rate.
“I trust that soon, similar efforts will be effectively undertaken in Zimbabwe. For my part, I assure you that the UNHCR will do its utmost to support you in the implementation of your national action plan,” he said.