250 persons sign open letter to end statelessness – As #IBELONG Flash Mob Lights Up The Accra Mall

New Story: Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Flash Mob PictureACCRA, Ghana, 7 March (UNHCR) – – UNHCR Ghana, brought excitement to patrons of the Food Court at the Accra Mall with a Flash Mob, to raise awareness of the issue of statelessness and to activate the #IBELONG Campaign in Ghana.  A group of dancers dressed in #IBELONG branded t-shirts put together an energetic and expertly choreographed dance routine performed to the popular “I Love my Africa” song.

The performance was climaxed with a speech read by volunteers, which informed bystanders of the causes and consequences of statelessness, and encouraged them to get involved by signing the open letter to end statelessness.

The event was graced with the presence of Elikem Kumordzie, an actor/celebrity tailor, and Ghana’s representative in Season 8 of the Big Brother Africa Reality Show, who assisted in reading out the speech to the excited audience.

Car stickers, #IBELONG t-shirts and other branded paraphernalia were handed out to bystanders who signed the open letter.

Prior to the Flash Mob itself, youth on roller skates distributed car stickers to commuters on the road leading to the Accra Mall.

Flash mobs are an innovative strategy aimed at getting people to stop, and pay attention to what appears to be a spontaneous unusual or entertaining activity of short duration, after which an important message can be delivered to the bystanders who have gathered around to witness the event.

At the end of the Flash Mob, 250 bystanders signed the open letter to end statelessness, and UNHCR staff present at the event took time to explain issues related to statelessness to many individuals who wanted to know more about the phenomenon and how to get involved.

The Flash Mob was part of a month-long series of activities to mark the 1 year anniversary of the Abidjan Declaration on the Eradication of Statelessness which fell on 25 February, 2016.

It would be recalled that last year, from February 23 – 25, a regional Ministerial Conference, was jointly organized in Abidjan by the UNHCR and ECOWAS to discuss the fight against statelessness in West Africa.

This conference resulted in the landmark ‘Abidjan Declaration of Ministers of ECOWAS Members on Eradication of Statelessness’ where member states outlined practical steps through which to bring an end to statelessness in West Africa.

Other activities which marked the anniversary celebrations include; a discussion on Metro TV’s Morning Show, a social media campaign, a press release and newspaper articles written by journalists trained on statelessness, as well as screening of short video clips on the LED billboard screens at the Osu Oxford Street and the Accra Mall.

A stateless person as an individual who is not considered a national by any State under the operation of its laws.

Across the world today, more than 10 million people are told they do not belong ANYWHERE.  They are called stateless and are denied a nationality.  This phenomenon affects 1 million individuals in West Africa, with majority of them being children.

Statelessness can mean a life without education, without medical care, or legal employment. It can mean a life without the ability to move freely, without prospects, or hope. Statelessness is inhumane.

You can help change their lives by going to http://www.unhcr.org/ibelong/ to sign the Open Letter to End Statelessness and become part of the global movement to end this injustice.

Watch video of event below

Story by: Nii Ako Sowa