The new Italian Union of Stateless People has been founded in Italy by four youths with first-hand experience. The organization is supported by PartecipAzione, a program promoted by the UN refugee agency UNHCR and humanitarian organization Intersos.
The newly founded Italian Union of Stateless People (Unione Italiana Apolidi, Unia) aims to improve the lives of an estimated 3,000 individuals residing in Italy who have no formally recognized nationality or citizenship, organizers said on Tuesday, November 8.
It's the first organization "of the stateless for the stateless", founded by four youths with first-hand experience of statelessness. Supported by the PartecipAzione program of UNHCR and in collaboration with Intersos, Unia specifically aims to help refugees and stateless people participate in Italy's social and civil life.
The organization vies "to fill a void" -- a void in "legislation, representation, knowledge and especially rights," said the president of Unia, Armando Augello Cupi, during a press conference to present the initiative at Rome's Foreign Press Association on November 8.
Limited access to fundamental rights
The main cause of statelessness in Italy and in Europe is connected to the fact that many people did not acquire citizenship after the dissolution of the former Soviet Union and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a situation that has set the ground for the subsequent transmission of statelessness from generation to generation.
The absence of a legal identity often means that stateless people have limited access to fundamental rights like education, medical treatment, measures of social protection and a regular job.
Undocumented stateless individuals can also have a difficult time carrying out simple activities like opening a bank account, obtaining a driving license or renting housing.
Italy at the forefront of the safeguard of stateless people
Unia has recalled that Italy is at the forefront of the protection of stateless people, having ratified both international conventions on statelessness.
It is moreover one of the few countries in the world with a procedure to determine the status of statelessness, although challenges remain to ensure that people living in this condition can benefit from their rights, Unia said.
Unia said it seeks to promote clear and trustworthy information for stateless people so that they can learn about their rights. The organization however also seeks to reform procedures to make them more accessible and efficient.
To facilitate the acquisition by stateless people of Italian citizenship, for example, this would mean cutting down the length of procedures and exempt them from a language test, together with a flexible implementation of income-related requirements.