UNHCR warns stateless people risk being left behind in coronavirus response

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is urging governments worldwide to pay urgent attention to the plight of millions of stateless people and to follow a set of recommendations the organization has issued today to ensure their coverage in the COVID-19 response.

“Millions of people around the world are denied a nationality and the legal rights endowed with it. They do not exist on paper and most often live on the fringes of society. Our worry is that at such a critical time, in the middle of a global pandemic, they now are at great risk of being left behind in the response,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Without citizenship, stateless people often do not have access to essential services, including health care, and now may also be precluded from or face obstacles in accessing coronavirus testing and treatment. Others may refrain from accessing services for fear that their legal status can put them at risk of detention or deportation.

“We must repeat that exclusion does not benefit anyone, least of all the global effort to contain the virus. The pandemic can only be beaten if everyone, regardless of their legal status, is included in the response. Nobody can be protected unless everybody is included, and that means including often invisible, stateless populations,” said Grandi.

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