This week the UCT Refugee Rights Unit in partnership with UNHCR hosted a four-day virtual training on ending statelessness in southern Africa. The training was well attended by more than 50 representatives of government organisations and NGOs as well as academics from the region. Led by A/Prof Fatima Khan, director of the Refugee Rights Unit, with Emannuelle Mitte of UNHCR, the sessions featured engaging and informative presentations by experts in the field, including Dr. Alice Edwards, Dr. Bronwen Manby, Dr. Mulugeta Dinbabo, Dr. Adeyemi Badewa, Christina Beninger, James Chapman, and Dr. Nathalie Baumgart.
The keynote speaker was Mr Sihle Nxumalo, a South African, who for more than three decades — his whole life — was unable to obtain a South African identity document. This left him at risk of statelessness. We are grateful to Sihle for generously and eloquently sharing his testimony and were thrilled to hear that, after only recently being issued his South African identity document, Sihle was able to vote for the first time ever in the 2021 Local Government Elections. The eradication of statelessness should be a high priority in the region so that currently stateless persons and those at risk of statelessness may, like Sihle, participate fully in the civic, social, and economic life of their countries.
The Refugee Rights Unit thanks the participants for their active and thoughtful engagement throughout the week.