Kenya Embarks On A Citizen Registration Process For The Stateless

Yet again, Kenya is setting on a process to register communities living in Kenya whose members have no identification of citizenship. The Kenyan government has said it will register the Shona as Kenyan citizens for inclusivity purposes. The Shona people’s existence in the country goes back to the 60s.

The Shona ethnic group immigrated to Kenya as Zimbabwean missionaries and thereafter many settled and remained in Nairobi and its outskirts where the Gospel of Church was established. The government has emphasised that for this to be a reality, a lengthy verification process will have to take place. This owes to the fact that stateless people living in a country are often excluded from education, political participation, marriage and banking which makes it hard to grasp how many actually exist and locations within the country.

In late August, the Kenyan government established a National Taskforce for the Identification and Registration of Eligible Stateless Persons as Kenyan Citizens. The task force will have a one-year mandate and work closely with UNHCR. Recognising Kenya’s Shona community as legal citizens means one step closer to reaching the UN goal to end statelessness by 2024.

Statelessness is quite complex. Those charged with resolving it needs to know who they [the stateless people] are, their numbers, history, locations, and living conditions. In December 2016, after years of seeking to be recognised as Kenyans, the Makonde were officially awarded the Kenyan citizenship. Some of those still stateless are the Rundi, Shirazi, and the Pemba people.

Gathoni Kuria
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