UNHCR Regional Bureau, Nairobi, Caroline Opile, firstname.lastname@example.org, 12 Feb 2021
UNHCR teams up with the African Committee on Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child to help eradicate childhood statelessness through an online course.
Yvonne Kagaju, a Protection and Monitoring Officer for Rwanda's National Commission for Human Rights attends the online course on 'Eradication of statelessness among children in East and Horn of Africa'.
© Photo courtesy of Yvonne Kagaju.
However, rather than cancel or postpone the workshop, titled ‘Eradication of Statelessness among Children in East and Horn of Africa,’ UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the African Committee on Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC)quickly adjusted and adopted it into a series of online webinars.
“Childhood statelessness is an extremely important human rights issue that cannot be delayed. The opportunity to train more advocates on childhood statelessness in the region was almost lost due to COVID-19, but the pilot online learning course opened the door to more possibilities,” says Clementine Nkweta-Salami, UNHCR’s Regional Director for the East, Horn of Africa and Great Lakes.
“As a result, we now have important advocates in nine African countries, willing to step up and work towards the goal of ending statelessness among children by 2024,"she adds.
Kagaju, from Rwanda, now sits quietly in her office in Kigali, ready to attend the online course.
“The webinar has helped me understand the situations that put children at risk of statelessness,” she says, adding that she is now more aware of the different international and regional instruments and conventions that are relevant in addressing child statelessness.
“Childhood statelessness is an extremely important human rights issue that cannot be delayed.”
She is among 33 people selected for the three-month pilot e-learning course on statelessness. Participants were drawn from NGOs, national human rights institutions and civil society organizations working on human rights and child protection. The learning consists of self-study materials including recorded videos, keynote speaker interventions, thematic webinars, reading material and tutored assignments for each of the five thematic modules.
Kagaju, a Protection and Monitoring Officer for Rwanda’s National Commission for Human Rights is passionate about children rights and this training could not have been timelier.
“Children, especially unaccompanied and separated children, are most at risk of statelessness,” she says, noting that governments have the power to end statelessness, if each state ratifies respective conventions and incorporates the norms into the relevant domestic laws
“We can eradicate statelessness among children because there is a legal framework that protects them,” she adds.
She hopes to use her newly acquired knowledge to empower a team of volunteers that work on child rights to enable them to identify children that are not registered and educate parents on the importance of birth certificates.
“I am now a resource person on statelessness. If I don’t speak about it, no one will know about it.”
“Advocacy is essential as children need to be included in our interventions to ensure no one remains stateless.”