GENEVA, July 4 (Xinhua) -- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced on Thursday that in a breakthrough in the global fight against statelessness, the Kyrgyz Republic has today become "a leading example of how statelessness can be eradicated by bringing the number of stateless people in the country from over 13,000 to zero in just five years."
In a press release, the UNHCR said that in a ceremony on Thursday morning in the capital Bishkek, 50 previously stateless people were issued with birth certificates and passports, making them citizens.
"They are the last known stateless people in Kyrgyzstan and will now have the same rights as any other citizen," UNHCR said.
According to the UN agency, the break-up of the Soviet Union in the 1990s left stateless hundreds of thousands throughout Central Asia, including some 13,700 in Kyrgyzstan.
"Kyrgyzstan's leadership on resolving known cases of statelessness is a remarkable example that I hope others will applaud and heed," said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
UN figures showed that statelessness affects millions of people around the world. Some 3.9 million stateless people appear in the reporting of 78 countries, but UNHCR said it believes the true total to be significantly higher.