9 Nov 2012

UNHCR assists stateless man in American Samoa

2:29 pm on 9 November 2012

The United Nations refugee agency says it is doing all it can to help a so-called stateless man stuck in American Samoa return to the US.

Mikhail Sebastian was born in Azerbaijan but became stateless when the former Soviet Union collapsed, and after ten years living in the US he travelled to Pago Pago on holiday but has been denied to return to the US mainland for lack of citizenship.

Despite his health reportedly requiring surgery, a UNHCR spokesperson says she's unsure when he could return to the US.

Charity Tooze says UNHCR is in touch with the US Department of Homeland Security regarding Mr Sebastian's case and has also helped him find a lawyer.

"Of course our hope is to continue to advocate on his behalf. I'm not in a position to make an opinion as to whether or not the wheels of bureaucracy will turn fast enough. I do know that we are doing what we can to reach out on behalf of him for his case."

Charity Tooze says his situation highlights problems faced by 12 million stateless people around the world.