BBC News tells half the story of UN campaign to end statelessness

On November 4th the BBC News website published an article titled “UNHCR seeks to end statelessness in 10 years” about the launch of a campaign titled “I Belong“.statelessness art  

In so far as it goes the article is fine; an accurate and impartial news report informing BBC audiences about the UNHCR initiative. What is interesting is the part of the story the BBC elected not to tell: the fact that the UN’s campaign to end statelessness does not include Palestinian refugees and their descendants deliberately kept stateless by Arab League countries as part of a political strategy initiated over half a century ago.

“In the year 1959 the Arab League accepted decision number 1457 and this is its text: “Arab states will reject the giving of citizenship to applicants of Palestinian origin in order to prevent their integration into the host countries”. This is a shocking decision, which stands in stark opposition to international norms on all subjects concerning the treatment of refugees during those years and particularly during that decade.” 

As AFP’s Nina Larson reported:

“The UN’s refugee agency launched a campaign Tuesday to eradicate statelessness within a decade, but UNHCR refrained from including Palestinians in the effort, citing the need for a separate “political solution” to their plight. […]

“Every 10 minutes a new stateless person is born,” UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres told reporters in Geneva, describing the situation as “absolutely unacceptable” and “an anomaly in the 21st century.”

With its “I Belong” campaign, UNHCR aims to highlight the “devastating life-long consequences of statelessness” and push countries to rectify their laws to ensure no person is denied a nationality. […]

The [UNHCR] report does not count the case of the Palestinians, since the UN General Assembly had recognized the State of Palestine, Guterres said.

The problem for many of the 4.5 million of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and the millions more living as refugees around the world is that the State of Palestine has yet to approve its nationality laws, he said, insisting that this “very specific situation” required a “political solution”.

Apparently the BBC did not consider it necessary for its audiences to know that stateless Palestinians will remain pawns in a decades-old battle of political warfare initiated by their Arab League ‘brothers’ and backed by the UN.

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