Society 12:47 14/12/2019 World

UNICEF: 166 million children globally remain unregistered

The number of children whose births are officially registered has increased significantly worldwide, yet 166 million children under-five, or 1 in 4, remain unregistered, according to a new report released by UNICEF on 11 December on its own 73rd birthday.

Birth Registration for Every Child by 2030: Are we on track? – which analyses data from 174 countries – shows that the proportion of children under-five registered globally is up around 20 per cent from 10 years ago – increasing from 63 per cent to 75 per cent, UNICEF reports. 

Global progress is driven largely by great strides in South Asia, particularly in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. In India, the proportion of registered children rose from 41 per cent in 2005-2006 to 80 per cent in 2015-2016. In recent years, UNICEF has worked with the Government of India to prioritize birth registration across states by increasing and improving access to registration centres, training officials and community workers and rolling out public awareness programmes, particularly amongst the most vulnerable communities.

However, that does not mean that the situation is acceptable in South Asia. Almost 51 million children under 5 remain unregistered, the majority living in India and Pakistan.

“We have come a long way but too many children are still slipping through the cracks, uncounted and unaccounted for,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “A child not registered at birth is invisible – nonexistent in the eyes of the government or the law. Without proof of identity, children are often excluded from education, health care and other vital services, and are more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.”

By contrast, the majority of countries in sub-Saharan Africa lag behind the rest of the world, with Ethiopia (3 per cent), Zambia (11 per cent) and Chad (12 per cent) recording the lowest levels of registered births globally.

The report notes that nearly 1 in 3 countries – accounting for around a third of the global population of children under the age of five – will need to urgently speed up progress in order to meet the target of providing legal identity for all, including birth registration, as set out in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Barriers to registration globally include lack of knowledge on how to register a child’s birth, unaffordable fees for registering a birth or obtaining a birth certificate, fees for late registration and long distances to the nearest registration facility. Traditional customs and practices in some communities – such as new mothers staying indoors – may also deter or prevent formal birth registration in the permitted time frame.

Even when children are registered, possession of a birth certificate is less common, with 237 million children under-five globally – or slightly more than 1 in 3 – lacking this official proof of registration. South Asia is home to the largest proportion of children globally without this proof of registration; 77 million do not have a birth certificate.



Source Panorama.am
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