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22 november 2016 - Today the European Network on Statelessness (ENS) [1], to which the Italian Refugee Council (CIR) [2] belongs, is part of a group of over 50 European civil organizations that will submit a petition to the members of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe requesting the European leaders to commit to ending the phenomenon of statelessness among children.

The petition [3] is part of a campaign supported by a wide group of international actors with the aim of pressurizing the European countries to reform the legislation that prevents children from obtaining a nationality. Its objective is to fill the gap in the legislation and in the bureaucratic-administrative procedures that prevents children born within European territory of being identified and guaranteed a nationality. It requests that the acquisition of citizenship is ensured immediately after birth. Today, in fact, less than half of the European states have fully incorporated the necessary safeguards to implement an international obligation to protect the rights of children to have a nationality.

This campaign includes events on a national level in Italy, Poland, Slovenia, France, UK, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia and other countries. In Rome, on the 23rd November, CIR promoted a Round Table to discuss statelessness in the current scenario in Italy, which saw the participation of members of the Senate Human Rights Commission, the UNHCR, the Ministry of the Interior and other experts on the subject. Italy is yet to adopt the legislation S.2148 on the Recognition of the status of the stateless, which was presented one year ago by the Senate Human Rights Commission in collaboration with UNHCR and CIR. This proposal, in line with what has been requested in the petition, proposes accessible and tangible responses to the problem of the stateless in our country and, once it has become national law, would represent a fundamental and direct instrument to prevent and eliminate situations of statelessness that can involve entire communities and in particular, minors.

“We are convinced that the approval of the proposed legislation concerning the recognition of the status of the stateless is a key step towards eliminating the suffering of thousands of people in Italy, including many children. It is a commitment that the Parliament must make in order to guarantee the dignity of people that live in our country without acknowledgement of their most basic rights.”

“It is difficult to imagine that the life of a child that grows up without a nationality can mean exclusion from the healthcare system, from the possibility of attending school and many other opportunities, without including the impossibility of achieving his/her full potential and the development of a sense of not belonging. This condition, in addition to causing numerous practical difficulties, also causes significant anxiety to children and their parents,” explains Fiorella Rathaus, director of CIR.

Research conducted by ENS has found that often those who are born to parents without a nationality inherit this status. Even children that have been abandoned or orphaned by parents without a known nationality, run this risk, as do those who face the international

process of adoption and those that arrive in Europe as refugees.

“The support received by the campaign #StatelessKids in all of Europe, which counts more that 22,000 signatures, demonstrates the huge commitment to eliminating statelessness and the suffering of children and their parents. The good news is that statelessness is a problem that can be solved by working together. Civil society and governments can put an end to this for once and for all,” concludes Chris Nash, Director of ENS. PRESS CONTACTS Valeria Carlini

Head of External Relations and Communications This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. + 39 06 69200114 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Daniela Di Rado Legal department and reference for the ENS network This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. + 39 06 69200114 (int. 223) NOTE

The Italian Refugee Council is an independent humanitarian organization founded in 1990 in Italy on the initiative of the United Nations with the aim of defending the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. CIR works to encourage access to protection for people fleeing war and persecution and to contribute towards constructing the conditions for the welcome and integration of such individuals in full respect of their human rights. CIR is a not for profit organization that includes judicial figures and has a structure of legal and social professionals, cultural mediators, doctors and psychologists. CIR operates on a national and European level and also in North Africa in a coordinated manner with other civil organizations. · The European Network on Statelessness (ENS) is a network of NGOs, academics and professionals dedicated to the cause of statelessness in Europe. ENS, with offices in London, is the organization that coordinates organizations in Europe that work with and are in contact with stateless people. It currently boasts more than 100 members in 39 countries.

· The event hosted by the European parliamentarian Jean Lambert, entitled “Working together to put an end to the statelessness of children,” took place at Member Salon in the European Parliament in Strasbourg (22 November at 5pm). The programme included a speech by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks. [4] · A stateless individual is someone that has no nationality. The UN agency for refugees has estimated that there are over 10 million stateless people in the world. Around 600,00 live in Europe. Today statelessness is still a question that is ignored and little understood. Given that often it is governments and civil society that are not fully aware of this problem, many stateless individuals find themselves stuck on the margins of society without any respect for their basic human rights. As part of its commitment to resolving this condition, the UNHCR recently launched the initiative #iBelong with the aim of eliminating statelessness within 10 years.

· To learn more please see the recent publication by ENS “No child should be stateless.” [5]. Other information can be found on the campaign website [6]. · The petition to European States can be found online [3] · The petition requests urgently to all European States: either to conform to the 1954 New York Convention on the status of statelessness and the 1961 New York Convention on the reduction of cases of statelessness;

or to resolve the existing gaps in legislation and bureaucratic/administrative procedures that prevent the identification and guarantee of a nationality to children born within the European territory.

or to ensure to all children their registration at birth. Links: ------ [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

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