Statelessness in a State?
11 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2017
Date Written: November 29, 2017
“I apologize on behalf of my government and that of previous governments for having lived in this condition for so long. You are not visitors in this country, and I order that by the time I come to Mombasa in December the people should be registered”
The Makonde Community:
The Makonde arrived in Kenya in the colonial period mainly as labourers in sugar and sisal plantations at the coast. There are almost 10,000 members of the Makonde community at the Kenyan coast. Due to their lack of Kenyan nationality, the Makonde were unable to access national identity cards and are also unable to obtain services that require people to produce Identity cards. Over the decade they have tried in vain to acquire Kenyan citizenship. There have been at-least three attempts at registration that have stalled midway. The Makonde are recorded as having voted in the first elections in independent Kenya.
Supported by human rights activists the Makonde community staged a walk dubbed “Trekking against Statelessness” on 10th October 2016 from Kwale to State House, to seek audience with the president with regard to their statelessness.
The President gave them audience and promised that all eligible Makonde people to be issued with national identity cards by December 2016.
Stateless Persons’ Situation in Kenya:
In Kenya, we have an estimated 20,000 stateless persons. Kenya is host to 2,000 stateless Shona’s who originally fled from Zimbabwe when war broke out from their country. Some of these people have lived in Kenya for 50 years without documentation. They have gotten families in Kenya. This means that they do not have access to the rights and benefits that citizens enjoy. They live in poverty and at a risk of detention and discrimination. Few in the Shona community have a Kenyan birth certificate or identity card, necessary to attend school or university, open a bank account, get a job, passport or mobile phone, or enter government buildings. Without citizenship of either country they are; unable to travel back to Zimbabwe or buy land in Kenya. Kenya is home to some 100,000-stateless people from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Somalia and Asia, according to the Kenya Human Rights Commission many of whom were brought to work on Kenya's highland tea and coffee estates in colonial times.
Keywords: Stateless, State, Citizenship
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