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June 15, 2021

Stateless people in Zimbabwe need your support

topic: Refugees and Asylum
type: Campaign, Donation, NGO
by: Quinta Thomson

To live a stateless existence extends far beyond the UNHCR definition of not being considered citizens under the operation of the law.

Lack of citizenship verification pushes an individual to the fringes of society and obstructs them from the fundamental rights and protections that their government is obligated to provide. With limited access to employment, house ownership, education, and the economy, those rendered stateless are ‘poor, marginalised, discriminated against, disenfranchised and politically excluded’.

In Zimbabwe, as estimated in Amnesty International’s recent report ‘We Are Like ‘Stray Animals’’, over 300,000 people have been marginalised and left unprotected due to difficulties around identity registration. Something as simple as a birth certificate or citizenship card is fundamental for all citizens to access vital support structures in place for the Zimbabwean population. 

The 1984 Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act has been used unlawfully to deprive Zimbabweans of foreign birthplace or those with no birth certificates from their rightful citizenship. This predominantly affects migrant workers and their families, as well as the victims of the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s, where an estimated 20,000 were killed and many identity documents were lost.

The Amnesty report notes how Zimbabwe, through discriminatory practice towards particular groups that are declared stateless, is transgressing International Human Rights Law. 

Citizenship Rights Center, as the name implies, strives to make fundamental changes to the lives of persons declared stateless through both legal and grassroots action.

The organisation's mission is to support the foundation of a legal system in Zimbabwe that is ‘keen to confer belonging and protection’ to all its citizens.

By campaigning for the right to birth registration and identity documents, CRC highlights the Zimbabwean government’s obligations towards all its citizens.

Utilising the power of information sharing, research, education and innovative legal interventions, the NGO acts as a resourceful network of support that empowers those caught in the vicious cycle that statelessness generates. 

In 2018, CRC launched the initiative ‘End to Broken Dreams’ to facilitate the procurement of birth registration and identity documents on behalf of those left vulnerable by Zimbabwe’s discriminatory laws. The campaign has a focus on orphans, women and young people who are at risk of being denied protections and constitutional rights granted by the state.

According to UNICEF, an estimated 55 percent of African children under five years old have not been registered due to unnecessarily restrictive procedures. Implementing the UN Human Rights Council’s declaration that every child has the right to acquire a nationality, the CRC’s initiative strives to end the discriminatory practice of denying registration documents, and to provide all children with the opportunity to ‘turn the Dream to a Reality’.

To learn more about Citizenship Rights Centre you can take a look at their website or social media and make a donation to support their campaign. 

Image: IcyU2