Kyrgyzstan takes steps to cut numbers of stateless people – UN refugee

The Central Asian country agreed to the move yesterday following a conference on statelessness in Bishkek, the capital, which was co-hosted by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Kyrgyz Government.UNHCR reports that more than 20,000 stateless people are estimated to be living in Kyrgyzstan – mostly people who hold expired Soviet or other foreign passports, or who have no documents at all.Their statelessness means they lack access to some basic rights, although the conference heard how they have a close connection to Kyrgyzstan, either from being born in the country, having lived there for many years, or from being married to a Kyrgyz citizen.Under the plan of action, UNHCR will help draft new instructions and by-laws, including one that defines the status of a stateless person, and a public awareness campaign will begin to promote the issue.The UN agency has already been working with authorities in Kyrgyzstan to find a solution to the stateless issue, including by encouraging the improved processing of applications for citizenship.Kasidis Rochanakorn, the director of the Asia bureau at UNHCR, said the action plan could set an example for other countries in Central Asia, where large numbers of stateless people also exist. 23 September 2009Kyrgyzstan has agreed to adopt an action plan to try to reduce the large number of stateless people within its borders, the United Nations refugee agency has reported.

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