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Paraguay: UNHCR welcomes new refugee law

Briefing Notes, 9 July 2002

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 9 July 2002, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR welcomes Paraguay's approval of a new "National Refugee Law." Paraguayan President Luis González Macchi signed the law on July 2, following its approval by both houses of the National Congress. The signing makes Paraguay the second of the MERCOSUR countries (Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil) to have a national refugee law. Brazil's refugee law was signed in October 2000.

UNHCR's Regional Office for South America has worked with the countries in the MERCOSUR region to develop a model refugee law text to promote a common level of refugee protection in the region as a whole. Paraguay has become the first country in MERCOSUR to pass a refugee law based on this model law text.

UNHCR welcomes the signing of the law as an important step towards ensuring refugee protection in Paraguay and in advancing harmonization of refugee protection in the region.




UNHCR country pages

Statelessness in Kyrgyzstan

Two decades after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, thousands of people in former Soviet republics like Kyrgyzstan are still facing problems with citizenship. UNHCR has identified more than 20,000 stateless people in the Central Asian nation. These people are not considered as nationals under the laws of any country. While many in principle fall under the Kyrgyz citizenship law, they have not been confirmed as nationals under the existing procedures.

Most of the stateless people in Kyrgyzstan have lived there for many years, have close family links in the country and are culturally and socially well-integrated. But because they lack citizenship documents, these folk are often unable to do the things that most people take for granted, including registering a marriage or the birth of a child, travelling within Kyrgyzstan and overseas, receiving pensions or social allowances or owning property. The stateless are more vulnerable to economic hardship, prone to higher unemployment and do not enjoy full access to education and medical services.

Since independence in 1991, Kyrgyzstan has taken many positive steps to reduce and prevent statelessness. And UNHCR, under its statelessness mandate, has been assisting the country by providing advice on legislation and practices as well as giving technical assistance to those charged with solving citizenship problems. The refugee agency's NGO partners provide legal counselling to stateless people and assist them in their applications for citizenship.

However, statelessness in Kyrgyzstan is complex and thousands of people, mainly women and children, still face legal, administrative and financial hurdles when seeking to confirm or acquire citizenship. In 2009, with the encouragement of UNHCR, the government adopted a national action plan to prevent and reduce statelessness. In 2011, the refugee agency will help revise the plan and take concrete steps to implement it. A concerted effort by all stakeholders is needed so that statelessness does not become a lingering problem for future generations.

Statelessness in Kyrgyzstan