Stateless Children are taking birth every 10 minutes because of the impact of armed conflict are restricted out of education, medical and future employment. In the short time that children get to be children, statelessness can set in stone grave problems that will haunt them throughout their childhoods and sentence them to a life of discrimination, frustration and despair.
In countries hosting the 20 largest stateless populations, at least 70,000 stateless children are born each year--or one about every 10 minutes, said the UNHCR, which is aiming to eliminate statelessness by 2024.
The problem is particularly severe among refugees affected by conflict. In Syria, children can acquire nationality only through their fathers, but the four-year civil war has forced more than four million people to flee the country and left 25% of refugee families fatherless.
The UN agency proposed several measures to eliminate the scourge of statelessness, including the reform of discriminatory laws that prevent mothers from passing on nationality to their children. Children should also automatically become nationals of the country where they are born, UNHCR further said.
The report identified discrimination as the main cause of statelessness, pointing to 20 countries where nationality can be denied on the basis of ethnicity, race or religion.
In some countries, laws prohibiting such discrimination are ignored in practice, such as the Dominican Republic where people of Haitian descent have often been denied Dominican citizenship, UNHCR said.
Globally, several million children are watching their childhoods slip away without the sense of belonging and protection that comes with a nationality.
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