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Who is Stateless and Where?

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The exact number of stateless people is not known, but UNHCR estimates that there are at least 10 million globally. They are found in all regions.

Statelessness due to the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union continues to affect over 600,000 people. For example, Montenegro, which was formerly part of the Yugoslav federation, has more than 3,300 registered stateless people, while Estonia and Latvia, ex-Soviet republics, have some 91,000 and 267,000 stateless people respectively.

Areas that have seen large movements of people due to war or economic migration have also been significantly affected by statelessness. In West Africa, the estimated stateless population in Côte d'Ivoire is 700,000, many of whom were migrants of Burkinabé descent who were not eligible for Ivorian nationality after the country's independence from France in 1960.

Other large stateless populations are the product of policies which exclude people deemed to be foreign, despite their deep roots in the countries concerned. More than 1 million people in Myanmar's Rakhine state are stateless on the basis of the current citizenship law. In the Dominican Republic, a Constitutional Court ruling in 2013 applied new nationality criteria retroactively and affected the nationality status of tens of thousands of people of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic.

However, there have been notable examples where, through political will, it has been possible to resolve large protracted situations of statelessness. For example, the case of some 300,000 Urdu-speakers (sometimes referred to as Biharis), was resolved in Bangladesh in 2008. Similarly, the situation of the Brasileirinhos Apatridás, stateless children born to Brazilian parents abroad who were unable to acquire Brazilian nationality unless they went back to live in Brazil, was resolved in 2007.

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