Croatia: 500 stateless persons are mostly Roma
News server dalje.com reports that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates there are approximately 500 stateless persons in Croatia and twice as many at risk of statelessness. They have no citizenship or personal identification and are therefore unable to exercise their rights, find jobs, get married or apply for health insurance.
Most of the stateless people, dalje.com reports, are Romani people whose births were never registered. A recent round table organized by the UNHCR's office in Croatia and the Information and Legal Centre (IPC) heard that some of these people never regularized their status after the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Dalje.com reports that Natasa Kovacevic, Executive Director of IPC, told the roundtable it is hard to estimate how many stateless Roma there are. The IPC began a project in 2011, financed by the UNHCR, to offer free legal advice to Roma on this issue.
Kovacevic said that people are now beginning to discuss their lack of identification more openly, according to dalje.com. There is still no official mechanism in place for identifying them, however.
Dalje.com reported a Croatian Government representative as saying that the country's Roma Inclusion Strategy includes regularizing the status of all Roma people who have "firm connections" to the country. The 2011 census found 2 886 people without citizenship, but Jasna Barbaric, head of the UNHCR's section on the stateless in Croatia, said those findings should not be considered reliable, dalje.com reports.
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