Relief as thousands recognized as Ivoirian citizens*

Image by Michael Fleshman/Flickr.

ABIDJAN, 22 March 2013 (IRIN) – Which of Côte d’Ivoire’s 20 million inhabitants qualify as nationals is a question that has driven political debate and conflict here for many years, and one that came to the fore earlier this month when thousands of people who had lived here all their lives were finally, and simultaneously in a public ceremony, given formal citizenship documents.

While around 140,000 similarly eligible residents have received documentary confirmation of their Ivoirian citizenship since 2011, the public ceremony held earlier this month in the administrative capital, Yamoussoukro, made waves because the documents were given to more than 8,000 people at the same time.

There are hundreds of thousands of people in Côte d’Ivoire who qualify for Ivoirian nationality but who, for various, reasons lack the documents to prove it. Because many are descended from people from other west African countries, they are often regarded as foreigners. In law, they are effectively stateless.

Protecting Chinese Citizens Abroad: What Next?

More and more Chinese travel and work abroad. Photo: ILRI/flickr

The dramatic rise in overseas travel and expatriate work by Chinese was punctuated by the recent kidnappings of Chinese workers in Sudan and Egypt. “Overseas Chinese protection” (haiwai gongmin baohu) has been a critical priority since deadly attacks killed 14 Chinese workers in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2004. Between 2006 and 2010, 6,000 Chinese citizens were evacuated to China from upheavals in the Solomon Islands, East Timor, Lebanon, Tonga, Chad, Thailand, Haiti and Kyrgyzstan.

But a new urgency has arisen in the past year: in 2011, China evacuated 48,000 citizens from Egypt, Libya, and Japan; 13 Chinese merchant sailors were murdered on the Mekong River in northern Thailand in October 2011; and in late January 2012, some 50 Chinese workers were kidnapped in two incidents by Sudanese rebels in South Kordofan Province and by Bedouin tribesmen in the north of Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.