Stateless people represent those that don’t have a nationality or citizenship, thus, are denied medical, education and social services, with the phenomenon being quite common in Europe with nearly 600,000 recorded as stateless.
Despite it being common, very few countries have compiled laws that protect the rights of stateless people, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
According to World’s Stateless, countries most affected in Europe by statelessness are Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine and Russia, which represent 80 per cent of the total reported stateless population. These numbers can be related to the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) as well as the breakup of Yugoslavia. People from the Romani community often find themselves affected by the situation, too.
The same source reveals that in Latvia there are around 252,195 stateless people, followed by Russian Federation (101,813) and Estonia (85,301). Other countries to follow are Ukraine (35,228), Sweden (31,062), Germany (12,569) and Poland (10,852).
Many of these countries don’t have the right legislation to protect stateless people’s rights, including Germany which doesn’t have a Statelessness Determination Procedure. However, in 2021, the new coalition Government announced that some people from this category could be eligible for some benefits.
On the other hand, Latvia, the country that has the highest number of stateless people in Europe, has done some progress regarding the matter, by introducing the category of stateless people in national statistics and has established a definition of statelessness in national law.
Government data from the Population Register recorded 166 Latvia, seven Estonian, one Uzbek, three Belarussian and one Finnish stateless person in Latvia, in June 2021. In the following month, the same source revealed there were 199,522 non-citizens in Latvia.
The Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) in France, has published official data on the statelessness status of people within the territory. According to such data, in 2021, 266 new claims for statelessness status were submitted – 11 per cent more than in 2021. In addition, 36 per cent were from Europe, 43 per cent from Africa and 20 per cent from Asia. People of Sahrawi origin represented the largest number of applicants (20 per cent).
Despite France having some rules that determine the definition of Statelessness, applicants for such status have no legal right to stay in the country and no simplified route to naturalisation applies to them.
Italy, on the other hand, is estimated to have around 3,000 stateless persons or at risk of becoming so. Just recently, the Italian Union of Stateless people revealed its goals of improving the lives of stateless people in the country.
Read More: EU: Several Countries Have Laws for Statelessness But Those Aren’t As Effective