London, Aug 25: Some 12 million people across the world do not have citizenship of any country, and are being denied basic human rights as a result, the UN has said.
The UN said the issue is becoming worse as stateless children are born to stateless parents. The problem is most widespread in South East Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the BBC reported.
Countries with the largest number of stateless people include Estonia, Iraq, Kenya, Latvia, Myanmar, Nepal, Syria and Thailand.
‘These people are in desperate need of help because they live in a nightmarish legal limbo,’ said Antonio Guterres of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Due to their lack of nationality, stateless people can face a whole range of problems including issues owning property, opening bank accounts, getting married legally or registering the birth of a child.
Some even face long periods of detention, because they cannot prove who they are or where they are from, the UN said.
Only 66 countries have till now signed the 1954 Convention entitling stateless people to minimum standards of treatment.
‘After 50 years, these conventions have attracted only a small number of states. It’s shameful that millions of people are living without nationality – a fundamental human right,’ Guterres said.