Increased momentum on the issue
Nationality in the region is a very sensitive issue. The reasons behind this sensitivity vary—in the Gulf for example the citizens are often a minority of the total population—so States aim to maintain exclusivity in access to their nationality. In the Levant, the substantially large Palestinian populations cause concern that naturalisation will influence and change demographics. In part due to this and in part due to ongoing and increasing turmoil in recent years, there have been too few research or mapping initiatives on statelessness carried out in the region. However, there have been several notable initiatives and publications that are pushing awareness and the agenda forward. The EUDO Citizenship Observatory now provides analysis of nationality laws of countries in the MENA, and in 2016, UNHCR published a report on addressing statelessness in the Middle East and North Africa. This publication details efforts to address the risks of statelessness in the Syrian refugee crisis. Also in relation to the Syrian refugee crisis, the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion and the Norwegian Refugee Council published a toolkit which provides tools and information to humanitarian actors working in the region with refugees who are stateless or at risk of statelessness from Syria.
Various civil society and human rights organisations have also shown increased interest in the issue. Legal Agenda published a statelessness series that looked at issues such as discrimination in Syrian nationality law and policy and the Mauritanian statelessness problem. In 2016 Amnesty International and other NGOs hosted a conference on the arbitrary deprivation of nationality, with a focus on the Gulf, which brought to light some of the hidden issues related to this problem. There is a growing need though, for more sustained civil society collaboration to address statelessness in the region.