A stateless person is someone with no citizenship or nationality. It may be because the state that gave their previous nationality has ceased to exist and there is no successor state or their nationality has been repudiated by their own state, effectively making them refugees. People may be stateless also if they are members of a group which is denied citizen status in the country on whose territory they are born, if they are born in disputed territories, if they are born in an area ruled by an entity whose independence is not internationally recognized, or if they are born on territory over which no modern state claims sovereignty. Furthermore, laws in which women do not enjoy equal rights as men in conferring nationality on their children can give rise to circumstances that leave children stateless.
To learn more about statelessness worldwide and efforts to reduce it, see these backgrounders and reports:
Women's Nationality Initiative, U.S. Department of State
Statelessness and the Benefits of Citizenship: A Comparative Study, Brad K. Blitz and Maureen Lynch, Oxford Brookes University
Nationality Rights for All: A Progress Report and Global Survey on Statelessness, Refugees International
Futures Denied: Statelessness Among Infants, Children, and Youth, Refugees International
Photo credit: UNHCR Myanmar
Photo caption: A camp for internally displaced people from the earlier wave of violence that shook Myanmar's Rakhine state.