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The world can end statelessness, says Cate Blanchett

Hollywood star Cate Blanchett pleaded Monday for an end to the devastating limbo suffered by millions of stateless people worldwide, saying they are left to wallow in “total invisibility”.

“It is time to act,” the Oscar-winning Australian actress, who serves as a Goodwill Ambassador to the UN refugee agency, told reporters in Geneva.

“The world can end statelessness.”

 

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Where do those people go who don’t belong anywhere? Who are stateless?⁣ ⁣ Our Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett issues a question and a challenge to world leaders and civil society groups gathered this week at @ungeneva. ⁣ ⁣ “Every inch of our world is divided into States. States which you all represent. But where do those people go who don’t belong anywhere? Who are stateless?” ⁣ ⁣ Cate asked posed this vital question at a high level meeting on statelessness. Her work with UNHCR has led her to meet stateless people and she recalls her conversations with them: “They feel invisible, they’re a human void like this empty chair.” ⁣ ⁣ Her call to action today was simple: It’s time to #EndStatelessness⁣ ⁣ We can work together to make this happen. Click the link in our bio to learn more. ⁣ ⁣ Photo: UNHCR/@markhenleyphotos ⁣ #IBelong #statelessness #passport #nationality #CateBlanchett #CateBlanchettDaily #unitednations #EndStatelessness #CateBlanchettEdit

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Her comments came as UNHCR marked the halfway-point in a 10-year campaign to end the plight of the millions around the globe deprived of a nationality.

Statelessness leaves people politically and economically marginalized, and particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

They are often deprived of an education, medical care, the right to marry or even receive a death certificate.

“It is total invisibility,” Blanchett said, lamenting that “they experience marginalisation and exclusion from cradle to grave”.

At the same time, parents deprived of a nationality often pass on the “desperate and horrific gift” of statelessness to their children, she said, describing it as an “inhumane and heartbreaking and devastating situation”.

It was all the more heartbreaking to witness since the problem could be solved.

“It is a man-made problem and it is solvable,” she said, pointing out that states “define citizenship and so states do have the power to remove the roadblocks to citizenship for stateless people.”

In 2014, UNHCR estimated there were around 10 million stateless people worldwide, but High Commissioner Filippo Grandi told journalists last week that the true numbers were unclear since many such people “are quite invisible”.

Grandi told a meeting of UNHCR’s Executive Committee Monday that “there have been important achievements” towards the goal of eradicating statelessness by 2024.

Over the past five years, some 220,000 stateless people have acquired a nationality thanks to concerted efforts in a number of countries.

Grandi also stressed that solutions were urgently needed for millions without citizenship or at risk of becoming stateless, including Myanmar’s Rohingya and in India’s Assam.

Later Monday, UNHCR’s prestigious Nansen Award will be attributed to Kyrgyz human rights lawyer Azizbek Ashurov for helping Kyrgyzstan become the world’s first country to end statelessness, working through his organisation Ferghana Valley Lawyers Without Borders (FVLWB).

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