Statelessness affects approximately 15 million people across the globe. People can become stateless for one of four reasons. (1) In the creation of new state, people are unable to receive new legal status. (2) The failure to register births or laws that prevent women from passing on citizenship to their children leads to statelessness at the point of birth and is inherited by future generations. (3) When states exile dissidents, their citizenship can also be restricted or rescinded completely. (4) States, for ethno-political reasons, take away citizenship for certain groups regardless of whether they are native by birth.
Over the years, human rights investigations have exposed how being stateless exposes people to societal and structural prejudice, and even violence. Underlying this is that without the benefits and protections afforded to normal citizens, stateless groups experience a daily struggle of restricted movement, unemployment, inaccessible healthcare, and exclusion from education as well as political processes. In instances where violence is perpetrated against stateless minorities, basic human rights and protections under the law are removed from them completely. Therefore, statelessness can be both a cause of psychological trauma while also preventing access to treatment.
Our interest is in discovering how statelessness, specifically documentation and exclusion, affects communities without basic citizenship rights, especially on social integration of marginalised or minority groups and their ability to access and support their well-being through community networks. Our research aims to explore psychological trauma of exclusion and displacement caused by persecution. Research is primarily focused Roma discrimination in Europe and Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, two groups that remain on the fringes of society that have for decades experienced exclusionary policies. Our partnerships will also develop policy on statelessness and mental health for the MHPSS sector working alongside Roma and Rohinga communities.
We are also exploring how newly resettled Rohingya groups may be vulnerable to post-traumatic stress or may experience other self-identifying concerns. Our findings will help direct collaborations between civil society organisations and practitioners on appropriate coping mechanisms and resilience-building.