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A working brunch with the media: An open approach to tackle statelessness

Working brunch with the media hosted by the Ministry of Interior   |   Photo: UNHCR Montenegro

Podgorica, Montenegro, September 18

Ministry of Interior, in cooperation with the UNHCR, hosted a working brunch with the media where statelessness in Montenegro was discussed. Representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration and the UNHCR, introduced journalists with the international standards in the area of statelessness, as well as current activities and challenges faced by the state authorities in this area.
Montenegro acceded to all major international legal instruments regulating statelessness, but their implementation has been uneven. This is partly due to the ambivalent understanding of the prevalence of this phenomenon in the country. The only data at the moment are the figures from the 2011 Census, where 4,312 persons declared they are without a nationality. In order to better assess the situation in the country, the Ministry of Interior, in cooperation with the UNHCR and OSCE, issued a public call for stateless persons, aiming to ensure comprehensive registration of these persons and their needs.
The two-month public call will be launched on 22 September, where all residents of Montenegro, who reported a lack of citizenship,  will be able to approach the Ministry of Interior for an interview. This will help the Ministry and UNHCR to develop a set of recommendations that aim to alleviate statelessness in the country.
“The Government of Montenegro remains committed to ensuring access to citizenship, and consequent rights, to all who are eligible. With close cooperation with our partners, UNHCR and OSCE, the government will continue to develop instruments that alleviate statelessness in a comprehensive and effective manner”, said Mr. Abid Crnovrsanin, Director General of the Directorate for Administrative Internal Affairs of the Ministry of Interior. 
Children born outside of healthcare institutions are in particular risk of statelessness. According to national statistical agency MONSTAT, more than 50% of stateless persons in Montenegro are children (Montenegrin version), mostly Egyptian and Roma. The Government adopted a National Action Plan for Children, which foresees subsequent birth registration of all children by the end of 2016.
“The reason for today’s meeting is a global campaign, which will be conducted by the UNHCR as of November 4. UNHCR proposes to states to adopt amendments to national legislation, identify and provide assistance to stateless persons. More concretely, the campaign serves as a commemoration of 60 years of the adoption of the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons”, said Mr. Aleksandar Cadjenovic, Protection Officer of the UNHCR.