“Everyone has the right to a nationality”

A new website to help stateless people in the UK

12 April 2018 | Cynthia Orchard, Statelessness Policy and Casework Coordinator at Asylum Aid (part of Migrants Resource Centre)
Asylum Aid - Statelessness website

If you are a person who is so fortunate as to always have had a nationality, imagine for a moment that you are not recognised as a citizen of any country. You manage, despite years of hardship and a perilous journey, to make it to a country where you could be safe and you could finally have a chance to have a nationality. How do you know where to turn for help?

Even in countries that have a statelessness determination procedure, there are numerous barriers that prevent stateless people from accessing protection, support and, eventually, nationality. A stateless person often won’t know how to find out about laws, policies, procedures, or resources that apply to them. The laws and policies may be very confusing, and the Government bureaucracy may be overwhelming. Stateless people may get incorrect information from well-meaning friends or acquaintances. They may have no idea where to find a qualified lawyer who can adequately advise and represent them.

Asylum Aid’s new website for stateless people in the UK seeks to overcome this. Our site is designed to provide stateless people, community groups, and others with explanations of relevant laws and procedures and points them to helpful resources. The site is easy to use on a desktop, laptop or mobile device and is available in English, Arabic, and French.

The new website was conceived by our CEO, Wayne Myslik, and I developed it (with funding from the Legal Education Foundation), with suggestions from numerous people, including experts on statelessness and stateless and formerly stateless people. We hope the site will be helpful for stateless people in the UK and that it may inspire similar online resources in other countries.

The website for stateless persons is part of a larger project to address statelessness in the UK in a holistic way. Asylum Aid’s work on statelessness comprises:

  • free legal advice and representation to stateless persons, including through collaboration with corporate law firms doing pro bono work on statelessness cases
  • organising training sessions for lawyers, NGOs, and others focusing on statelessness
  • advocacy with the Government at the policy level to make systemic improvements
  • raising awareness through traditional and social media, writing blog articles, policy briefings, and organising statelessness events
  • integration/inclusion services (English classes, careers advice, health access advice, etc) that are open to stateless persons (and we are working towards expanding use of these by stateless people)
  • creation of an online group called the UK Statelessness Forum to share information with people who have an interest in statelessness in the UK (with more than 100 members)
  • collaboration with partner organisations, universities, authors, and others on a variety of projects, including a submission to the Universal Periodic Review and related advocacy
  • Last, but definitely not least - membership on ENS’s Advisory Committee and active participation with ENS projects

A final note – I am not a ‘techie’ kind of person, and initially I found this project somewhat intimidating. But I talked to a lot of people about it and learned along the way, and of course I didn’t build the site myself – we worked with a web design agency that came up with some great ideas for the technical development of the project. So, if you are prone to avoiding projects involving technology, let me suggest that it’s not as bad as it may seem, and it’s the way of the future. Our next statelessness technological project will be an online course for lawyers on statelessness in the UK, coming ‘soon’ (late 2018 or early 2019).

I hope you find the website useful, and do feel free to make comments (using the feedback form on the website). We will be updating the website periodically and making improvements and additions – suggestions welcome!

The site is available at: https://www.statelessness.info

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