UNHCR opens art-installation “Invisible Children: Under the Risk of Statelessness”

12 November, Kyiv, Ukraine – UNHCR Ukraine carries out a social media campaign on 12-15 November to raise awareness about the issue of statelessness in Ukraine and to end it by 2024.

As part of its global #IBelong campaign which was launched in November 2014 and aims to end statelessness within ten years, UNHCR called on all states to reinforce their efforts in ending statelessness by 2024. Statelessness remains an issue that affects the most vulnerable and stigmatized members of society and that is ignored by the general public.

While observing the sixth anniversary of the campaign, UNHCR Ukraine has organized a number of activities to raise awareness about the issue of statelessness in Ukraine and to engage wider audience in combatting it.

On 12 November, from 5 pm to 10 pm, a show dedicated to the campaign will be projected on the media-façade of the Gulliver Mall in Kyiv (1-A Sportyvna Square). Also from the same date, a giant teddy bear holding a birth certificate will stand in the entrance hall of the Gulliver Mall for four days, until 15 November. This installation titled 'Invisible Children: Under the Risk of Statelessness' evokes the risk of statelessness among children born in non-government controlled parts of Ukraine and who have not yet obtained a Ukrainian birth certificate. One of the 10 actions to end statelessness is to ensure birth registration for the prevention of statelessness.

The teddy bear reminds us that efforts are still needed in Ukraine to ensure that children born in the non-government-controlled (NGCA) parts of the Donetska and Luhanska oblasts obtain Ukrainian birth certificates. Without Ukrainian birth certificates, they may face risks of statelessness. - says Pablo Mateu, UNHCR Representative in Ukraine. - UNHCR estimates that, as of October 2020, approximately 60,000 children born in NGCA have not yet obtained a Ukrainian birth certificate. UNHCR continues to advocate for simplification of birth registration so that the procedure is responsive to the specific needs of families in NGCA.”

The UNHCR Ukraine invites everybody to make a post in social media using the hashtags #IBelong #EndStatelessness #ЯІсную. The participants of the campaign will be able to win a toy teddy bear and other prizes based on random selection.

Today millions of people around the world are denied a nationality. As a result, they often have difficulty accessing basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement. Without these things, they can face a lifetime of obstacles and disappointment.

In Ukraine, UNHCR estimates that around 40,000 persons fall under its mandate on statelessness with a vast proportion belonging to vulnerable and marginalized groups such as Roma, homeless persons, older people holding Soviet passports, as well as persons released without documents from penitentiaries (in particular persons who were never documented and/or who have their residence registration in NGCA). UNHCR and its partners provide them with legal assistance.

In 2020, Ukraine adopted a law introducing a Statelessness Determination Procedure. The adoption of this law represents an important step towards ending statelessness in Ukraine. UNHCR welcomes this achievement. The law will give thousands of people who lack a nationality a chance to work legally, study and access healthcare among other rights and opportunities, and will ultimately provide a pathway to citizenship, once they are recognized as stateless. It is crucial that the law is implemented soon.

UNHCR stands ready to support authorities in the implementation of the law and has offered its assistance to Ukraine’s State Migration Service to train key staff in their regional departments as well as legal practitioners, including from the state-run Free legal Aid Centers. UNHCR will also raise awareness among concerned populations on the possibility to apply for statelessness status.



Global campaign #IBelong

#IBELONG campaign is a UNHCR’s ten-year campaign (2014-2024) to end statelessness in the world.

Since the start of the #IBelong Campaign:

  • Almost 350,000 stateless people acquired a nationality in places as diverse as Kyrgyzstan, Kenya, Tajikistan, Thailand, Russia, Sweden, Viet Nam, Uzbekistan and the Philippines.
  • There have been 25 accessions to the two UN Statelessness Conventions, amounting to 94 countries that are now party to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, and 75 to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
  • 16 countries have also established or improved statelessness determination procedures to identify stateless people on their territory, with some offering a facilitated pathway to citizenship.
  • 8 states have amended their nationality laws to grant nationality to children born in their territory who would otherwise be stateless, and two States have reformed their nationality laws to allow mothers to confer nationality to their children on an equal basis with fathers.


UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. We deliver life-saving assistance such as shelter, food and water, help safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future. We also work to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality.

For more information about UNHCR, visit https://www.unhcr.org/ua  

Media Contacts
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees