The International Observatory on Statelessness


According to UN HCR and the U.S. Department of State, by the end of 2007, approximately 2,078 stateless persons were in Azerbaijan. The majority of these persons were ethnic Azeris from Georgia and Iran.

The legal status of Meskhetian Turks throughout Central Asia is not secure, and an unknown number are stateless. Meskhetian Turks originally lived in the Meskhetian Range region in southern Republic of Georgia, near the Turkish border. Under Stalin’s leadership, thousands were deported to other regions of Central Asia. An estimated 300,000 Meskhetians live in the former USR, with 80,000-100,000 in Kazakhstan, 50,000-70,000 in Russia, 100,000 in Azerbaijan, 25,000-30,000 in Kyrgyzstan, 15,000-40,000 in Uzbekistan, and 5,000-10,000 in the Ukraine. Another 20,000 are in Turkey. There are also thousands of Meskhetian Turks who have recently resettled within the U.S. While no one country considers deported Meskhetians to be their nationals, efforts to repatriate Meskhetians and provide citizenship in Azerbaijan and Turkey have taken root over the last decade. In Azerbaijan, UNHCR helped implement a 1998 citizenship law. However, citizenship has reportedly been withheld from Meskhetian men who delay or avoid participation in compulsory military service.