The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Regional Office for Southern Eastern Europe in Sarajevo organized an event within a global campaign to end statelessness by 2024.
In 2014, UNHCR launched the #IBELONG campaign to end statelessness in the world within ten years, by 2024. Europe today is home to some 600,000 stateless people or people at risk of becoming stateless, including, according to UNHCR estimates, 8,500 people in South Eastern Europe. Majority of people at risk of statelessness in the Western Balkans belong to ethnic minorities, especially Roma. Anne-Christine Eriksson, the UNHCR Regional Representative for South Eastern Europe and Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina said on the occasion: “We are encouraged by the significant progress made by the authorities in South Eastern Europe, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, in addressing this inhumane phenomenon. Their actions have been complemented by the invaluable, active engagement, across the region, of the ever-stronger civil society sector, and by the affected communities themselves.”
Behind every number there is a person, a human life, a destiny
Currently, 68 persons are at risk of statelessness in Bosnia. Predrag Jović, Deputy Minister of Human Rights and Refugees, provided insight into measures aimed to solve the problem of people at risk of statelessness in Bosnia: “It is a fact that BiH achieved a lot in reducing the number of persons at risk of statelessness, and today they are fewer than one hundred. However, we must work on the remaining cases and establish a sustainable system in order to secure the registration of birth and citizenship, ensuring that there are no children born in Bosnia and Herzegovina without personal documents.”
Numerous civil society organizations play a very significant role in the common endeavor to completely eradicate statelessness. Emir Prcanović, Executive Director of Vaša prava BiH, a non-governmental organization providing free legal aid to this most vulnerable population in Bosnia, spoke about the legal status of people at risk of statelessness: “Everything that we have achieved in solving the problem of statelessness in BiH is the result of committed work, field visits and identifying problems related to statelessness that affect the most vulnerable members of our society. However, it is important to stress that behind every number there is a person, a human life, a destiny.”
A multimedia exhibition of photographs, video records and stories about people at risk of statelessness in Bosnia and the Western Balkans was featured at the event.