At risk of statelessness (in north Sudan)
In 2019, UNHCR will prioritize activities relating to developing and strengthening law and policy, promoting accession to international statelessness conventions, improving access to birth registration and civil status documentation, improving access to legal assistance and legal remedies, and improving the level of individual documentation in order to achieve a greater reduction of statelessness. UNHCR’s activities on statelessness will be conducted consistently with the Global Action Plan to End Statelessness: 2014-2024, the Regional Plan for the East, Horn, Central Africa, and Great Lakes region and the Brazzaville Declaration and Plan of Action for ending Statelessness in the Great Lakes Region 2017. The work will relate particularly to Action 1 (resolving existing statelessness situation), Action 2 (ensure no child is born stateless), Action 3 (remove gender discrimination from nationality laws), Action 5 (Prevent Statelessness in Cases of State Succession), Action 7 (ensure birth registration for prevention of statelessness), Action 8 (Issue Nationality Documentation to those with Entitlement to it), Action 9 (accede to the Statelessness Conventions) and Action 10 (improve qualitative and quantitative data on statelessness). In light of the adoption of the Regional declaration on Ending Statelessness in the Great Lakes Region by the member states of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, UNHCR will prioritize activities relating to supporting the government in the implementation of its commitments under the declaration including the identification and capacitation of a national focal point/task force for statelessness issues in Sudan and the drafting of a national action plan on statelessness as well as the adoption of the Statelessness Conventions (the timeframe set by declaration for completion of these activities is 2019). Extensive advocacy for the ratification of the statelessness conventions will be conducted. UNHCR will support the commissioning of 2 studies on statelessness for better identification and profiling of the population at risk of statelessness and for advocacy efforts in 2019. Capacity building through targeted technical training to nationality and civil registry officers including through supporting their participation in the external statelessness training courses will be continued. UNHCR will continue to support existing legal and paralegal networks to provide legal assistance to persons at risk of statelessness. UNHCR will, through information and awareness raising campaigns, raise awareness amongst populations at risk of statelessness on the available procedures for confirming nationality and assess their level of access to documentation. UNHCR will continue to identify, through the paralegals networks and community committees meetings and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), the protection needs associated with documentation of these populations, which will be addressed through advocacy interventions and improvement of referral systems for legal aid. Activities relating to birth registration will be prioritized in 2019 through the continuation of support to the Civil Registry including both capacity building and support for birth registration campaigns. Through the involvement in the Government led committee on birth registration, as well as other multilateral and bilateral cooperation with relevant actors including National Council for Child Welfare, Ministry of Health, COR, UNICEF and PLAN, UNHCR will continue to support a coordinated effort to promote the birth registration system in general. In light of the current active law reform efforts which were reflected recently in the adoption of an important amendment to the Nationality Act (February 2018) that, once enforced, will contribute significantly to reduce the risk of statelessness for a considerable number of people, UNHCR will also prioritize and increase activities aiming at supporting law reform through both advocacy and technical capacity building.
Despite the precarious security and political situation in Sudan in 2019, UNHCR and its partners implemented a number of projects and activities that led to the improvement of the legal environment for people at risk of statelessness, and to the prevention of statelessness. UNHCR provided legal assistance by conducting advocacy for law and policy reform, raising awareness and building capacity of related actors. In addition, UNHCR supported the population of concern in accessing birth registration and civil documentation.
In 2019, UNHCR continued to partner with the Sudanese Civil Registry to improve birth registration in Sudan and to ensure that UNHCR population of concern, including those at risk of statelessness, have access to the civil registration system. UNHCR and the General Directorate of Civil Registry implemented activities that aimed at promoting birth registration among refugees, IDPs, refugee and IDP returnees, and host communities in 12 States (including Khartoum, Kassala, Gedaref, South Kordofan, West Kordofan, White Nile, Blue Nile, East Darfur, South Darfur, West Darfur, North Darfur and Central Darfur states).
A total of 37,706 children were registered and issued birth certificates in the targeted states. A permanent birth registration center in White Nile was constructed and furnished to serve the South Sudanese refugees and host communities. In addition, a special window for birth registration of refugees was established at the end of 2019 at the Civil Registry main office in Khartoum. UNHCR and COR refer refugees in need of birth certificates to this special window. Since then, a considerable number of refugees benefited from this service, especially urban refugees including Eritrean, Ethiopian, Congolese and Syrians.
UNHCR continued, through its legal aid partners, to support the provision of legal aid. In 2019, legal representation and legal advice, in areas related to nationality and civil documentation, was provided to 324 individuals at risk of statelessness, especially in the eastern States and Khartoum. Capacity-building for lawyers and paralegals continued to be conducted. A national legal aid workshop was conducted at Khartoum with all actors involved in provision of legal aid. This workshop established clear coordination channels and referral pathways between different actors.
Information on nationality, civil documentation and birth registration continued to be disseminated through media such as radio, TV and mobile theatre shows as well as the press.
UNHCR supported the participation of two senior civil registry officials in specialized technical statelessness training outside Sudan and supported the Sudanese’s statelessness focal point in drafting the country national action plan on ending statelessness.
In 2019, the efforts continued to assist the most vulnerable individuals at heightened risk of statelessness in obtaining nationality documentation, where UNHCR and partners assisted 1,922 individuals in confirming the Sudanese nationality and 1,427 in confirming the South Sudanese nationality. UNHCR continuously monitored the procedures for determination of nationality and advocated with relevant actors (including parliamentarians, law professionals, line ministries and media) for the elimination of obstacles. Civil Registry also estimated that 1,300 Sudanese women were able to pass the Sudanese nationality to their children, following the adoption of the latest amendment to the Sudanese Nationality Act in 2018 that enables Sudanese women with South Sudanese spouses to convey the nationality to their children.
Limited availability of funds prevented a wide scale intervention on birth registration both at country level and at the specific refugee level. Civil registry required a comprehensive capacity-building and a considerable logistical support for the registration activities in targeted locations, due to which the overall birth registration rate in the country remained at 69%. Limited funding and increasing inflation in Sudan led to decrease in the number of permanent birth registration centers which were supposed to be constructed from four to only one. Due to access and resource limitations, gathering of qualitative and quantitative data on statelessness and carrying out participatory assessments remained challenging, and only limited monitoring and strengthening of community structures was conducted in Khartoum and the Eastern States. Since there is no consolidated data on groups of population at risk of statelessness in Sudan, further detailed profiling and identification of these groups were required through conducting country-wide researches and assessments.