UN refugee chief urges India to ensure no one left stateless

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The UN’s top refugee official urged India to ensure no one is left stateless by the exclusion of nearly 2 million people from a citizenship list in Assam state.

“Any process that could leave large numbers of people without a nationality would be an enormous blow to global efforts to eradicate statelessness,” Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, said in a statement issued Sunday in Geneva.

He urged India to ensure no one ends up stateless, “including by ensuring adequate access to information, legal aid, and legal recourse in accordance with the highest standards of due process.”

About 31.1 million people were included on the list Assam’s government released Saturday, omitting 1.9 million. The list - known as the National Register of Citizens, or NRC - is unique to Assam state, in India’s far northeast bordering Bangladesh.

The government has said it compiled the list to detect and deport undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh but has also clarified that those left off the final citizenship list won’t be declared foreigners.

It is unclear what happens next. Those left off the list can appeal to unique tribunals, but if they lose, they could be sent to detention centers being set up by the government.

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