//Refugees 'need more attention'

Refugees 'need more attention'

By Zoi Constantine, Gulf News, 20 June 2006

Dubai: On the occasion of World Refugee Day, activists and legal experts in the UAE urged the public to focus more attention on the plight of refugees worldwide.

Today marks the sixth annual Refugee Day, when the international spotlight is shone on the situation of the estimated 20.8 million refugees all over the world."Despite the enormity of their suffering, refugees never give up their dream of home and all it entails," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres in a statement.

Prominent UAE human rights lawyer and professor of constitutional law at UAE University, Mohammad Al Rokn said that it was important to highlight the plight of refugees.

"The question of refugees is one of the most pressing human rights issues. Unfortunately the problem has not been focused on sufficiently by the international community, as people continue to be driven from their countries because of famine, persecution, war and other factors."


"The UAE is one of the largest donor countries in the world per capita, but we can always do more," he said.

According to social worker and director of the Al Ihsan Medical Complex in Ajman, Atallah Habib, the culture of volunteerism must also be encouraged to help those less fortunate.

"More people need to be aware, more open-minded and accept other people into their communities. The ability to help fellow human beings is invaluable," said Habib.

Mamoon Mohsen, a UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) official based in Riyadh, said that in the Gulf region the focus was on raising awareness about the provision of protection and assistance, as well as encouraging respect for refugees.

According to UNHCR, some of the most serious situations are located in southern Sudan, the Congo, and of course, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.

How do people become stateless?

    * The transfer of territory or sovereignty, which alters the nationality status of some citizens, leaving them without citizenship.
    * Arbitrary deprivation of nationality by a government.
    * Administrative oversights, misunderstandings or conflicts of law.
    * Administrative or procedural problems such as excessive fees, unrealistic deadlines, lack of appeal or review procedures and failure to notify individuals of registration or other obligations.
    * Individual renunciation of one nationality without first acquiring another citizenship.
    * Nationality may be automatically altered in the case of marriage or dissolution of a marriage between couples from different countries.
    * Failure to register children at birth so there is no proof of where or to whom they were born.
    * Birth to a stateless person.