Kyrgyzstan Ends Statelessness in Historic First

Kyrgyzstan. Portrait of Nazgul Avaz, 22, a formerly stateless young woman who is now working in a cafe

Previously stateless, Nazgul Avaz Kyzy, 22, is now a full citizen of Kyrgyzstan and able to work legally at a local café. © UNHCR/Chris de Bode


In a ceremony this morning in the capital, Bishkek, 50 previously stateless people, including 15 children, were issued with birth certificates and passports, making them citizens. They are the last known stateless people in Kyrgyzstan and will now have the same rights as any other citizen.

The break-up of the Soviet Union in the 1990s left hundreds of thousands throughout Central Asia stateless, including in Kyrgyzstan. Encouraged by the UNHCR-led #IBelong campaign that was launched in 2014 to end statelessness, the Government and partners had identified 13,700 people without nationality in the country. These included more than 2,000 children.

“Kyrgyzstan’s leadership on resolving known cases of statelessness is a remarkable example that I hope others will applaud and heed,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “My congratulations to all those who have received their citizenship today.”

Statelessness affects millions of people around the world, often denying them the basic rights and official recognition that most people take for granted. Some 3.9 million stateless people appear in the reporting of 78 countries, but UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency believes the true total to be significantly higher.


Read also:

Four Years into Its #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness, UN Refugee Agency Calls for More Resolute Action by States

Urgent Action Needed to Address Child Statelessness Before Problems Become ‘Set in Stone’

Q&A: Head of Kenya’s Makonde People Recounts Long Walk from Statelessness


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