About 1,100 foreign nationals applied for the Belarusian citizenship in 2018, Belarus' Deputy Interior Minister Nikolai Melchenko told the media ahead of the International Statelessness Conference in the CIS Region which is underway in Minsk on 4-5 December, BelTA has learned.
"About 1,100 foreign citizens applied for citizenship in Belarus. Of them are 250 stateless persons. These are, mainly, representatives of Russia, Ukraine, and Central Asia. A small number of people came from non-CIS countries, Syria, and Yemen," said Nikolai Melchenko.
In his words, statelessness is not an acute problem for Belarus. "In 2000 there were about 20,000 stateless persons. In 2018 this figure dropped to slightly over 6,000. We are holding a conference to share experience with stakeholders from other countries, as statelessness and migration are closely related to security," the deputy minister said.
Statelessness is a serious problem that affects at least 10 million people worldwide. Statelessness is due various reasons, including gaps in legislation and imperfect law enforcement practices, migration. In 2014, the Office of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees launched a Global Campaign to End Statelessness within 10 Years – #IBelong Campaign. It is grounded in a Global Action Plan, which provides a blueprint of 10 actions that need to be undertaken to resolve existing situations and prevent new cases of statelessness from arising. In 2019, high-ranking representatives from different countries will take part in an event to assess the progress achieved over the five years of the #IBelong campaign.
"I believe that this conference is timely," said Representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Belarus Jean Yves Bouchardy. "We will discuss issues related to statelessness and the ways to solve this problem. I hope the conference will provide the necessary opportunity for dialogue between the CIS states and participants representing international and regional organizations. They will be able to talk about their best practices which will help us work out joint approaches to solving the problem of statelessness," he said.
The international statelessness conference in the CIS region has been organized by the representation of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Belarus, the Interior Ministry of Belarus and the CIS Executive Committee as part of the UNHCR campaign #IBelong. The event has gathered a big number of participants. The main objectives of the conference are to analyze the situation with statelessness in Belarus and the CIS countries, share best practices with other European countries, foster the development of the most appropriate approaches and strategies aimed at identifying stateless persons and preventing new cases of statelessness.