By Staff Reporter
VUMBA-AS part of its ambitious project to help end statelessness by 2024, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has moved in to assist the victims of Cyclone Idai in replacing lost documents through supporting the operations of Registrar General`s office .
Cyclone Idai, one of the worst natural disasters to hit Zimbabwe in living memory and the southern hemisphere according to UN, battered parts of south eastern Manicaland province early this year leaving a trail of destruction of infrastructure as well as hundreds of deaths.
According to investigations and findings released by Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), many citizens in Chimanimani and Chipinge lost identity particulars with old people the most affected as they were just issued metal identity cards soon after independence but government did not have their proper records.
UNHCR Zimbabwe Protection Officer (Statelessness) Olivia Mugambi Spielmann said after tropical Cyclone Idai they teamed up with the Registrar General’s department to conduct an assessment in terms of highlighting risk of statelessness and discovered that many individuals had lost documents.
“After that, we saw the need to assist the operations of Registrar General`s office so that they issue out new documents.
“We started the exercise from September 1, with an information campaign urging all the individuals to come forward and replace their documentation so that they continue to enjoy their rights,” she said.
“The project will run until December this year and our target is to ensure that everyone affected by Cyclone Idai do have their documents replaced.
“We are replacing birth certificates, passports, national identity cards and other certificates to ensure that these individuals continue to enjoy their human rights and continue to belong to Zimbabwe.”
Spielmann said the project will ensure that affected people will not fall into the category of persons who are being statelessness.
“What we are doing with Registrar General is supporting them operationally by sending out mobile teams to replace the documents as well as paying for the documentation.
“This is a big programme we are doing under the #IBelong campaign to make sure people are not affected by Statelessness,” she said.
Chimanimani East legislator Joshua Sacco said the #IBelong campaign, an ambitious project by UNHCR to end statelessness by 2024, came at an opportune time as most people in his constituency were still recovering from the devastating effects of Cyclone Idai.
He said many people lost documentation during the disaster and welcomed the support rendered by UNHCR in ensuring that victims receive their lost documents.
“As the legislator for Chimanimani East which was most affected by Cyclone Idai, I would like to thank the support we received from UNHCR in ensuring that our people get documentation so that they don’t become stateless,” said Sacco.
According to statistics by United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHR), between 10-12 million people worldwide are stateless.