Tonight's show focuses on the plight of refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and asylum seekers - a total of over 40 million people globally. We look in depth at these three groups and their geography.
There are more than 200 sovereign states that govern the 6.7 billion people in the world. But large groups of people have fallen through the cracks of international law and lack many of the benefits of belonging to a nation-state. Our Stateless to Statehood project explores the relationship between individuals, ethnic groups and states -- from the 12 million people without any citizenship to the tens of millions yearning to form entirely new nations. The project focuses on three groups:
- Citizens of nowhere - Every day, about 12 million people wake up as citizens of no nation at all. These men, women and children are scattered across six continents and excluded from virtually all the benefits of nationality -- a passport, the right to vote, land ownership, access to health care and legal employment. From Rohingyas in Myanmar to Nubians in Kenya and Haitians in the Dominican Republic, stateless individuals live without the protection and recognition of the government that rules the place where they live. On June 10, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the first-ever American legislation to recognize and reduce statelessness, which also addressed issues of global stability and security. The issue encompasses a tangle of nationalistic politics, ethnic discrimination and international human rights law.
- Refugees are victims of violent conflict who are unable or unwilling to return to their country of nationality. Currently, 16 million people are recognized by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees as refugees or asylum seekers. Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghanis and Somalis are the largest refugee groups currently living outside their countries of origin. Their country of nationality cannot protect them, and they typically rely on international bodies to provide them with aid and sufficient livelihood.
- State-seekers are groups striving for autonomy and national self-determination. They often view themselves as stateless peoples. Even though most of these groups have formal, legal ties to nation-states, they often seek to attain a state that will better serve their interests. While around 200 million people belong to groups seeking secession or greater autonomy, a small fraction are actively involved in these struggles. Kurds, Uyghurs, Tibetans and Basques are a few of the groups whose situations we explore.
"Stateless to Statehood" examines the root causes of statelessness in the post-colonial period, in the the aftermath of major wars and the break-up of empires. We're identifying potential ways to solve statelessness via legal and political avenues, as well as exploring the themes of nationalism and ethnic identity.
Stateless to Statehood
Irene Zubaida Khan of Amnesty International explains how 40 million people are uprooted from their homes in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Also, Al Jazeera English's Hamish MacDonald reports from Calais after the French government shut down a camp that housed thousands of illegal migrants two weeks ago.
Many Bidoon people in Kuwait and other Gulf states do not have citizenship in any country. Ashraf talks to Worldfocus about the Kuwaiti government's rejection of his nationality and his quest for asylum in the U.K.
A Worldfocus contributing blogger based in Bangkok describes her encounter with Karen refugees on the Thai-Myanmar border. In the wake of Myanmar army attacks on ethnic Karen rebels, thousands of Karen refugees have fled to Thailand and some half a million others are displaced within Myanmar.
In recent months, Greenland has taken steps towards self-rule. Cultural identity is also highly important to Greenlanders, and Jason George of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting writes that the traditional Greenlandic language has become a symbol for national pride.
Karen Zusman recently returned from Malaysia, where she reported on the plight of Burmese refugees. In this audio interview, she speaks with one of the refugees about recent developments.
Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen has proclaimed that Greenland can declare full independence from Denmark. But even as Greenland moves towards independence, it must contend with the growing effects of climate change and wean itself off Danish financial support.
Worldfocus contributor Jen Marlowe is traveling throughout Israel and Palestine. She describes exploring the destroyed village of Zakariyya with Sami Al Jundi, a Palestinian acquaintance whose mother fled the village during the 1948 war. A Jewish community now resides in the town, whose name was changed to Zekharya.