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Child birth registration is not a given – yet

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Have you ever stopped to think how often in your daily lives you are requested to show your ID card? I am sure that the answer is too many. So many that we give having a legal identity for granted, when in many parts of the world loads of children lack such a basic act: their legal registration. 

Indeed, birth registration is sometimes even known as the ‘first right’ of a child. It is their passport to security, protection from abuse and violence, access to education, good health, advancement and mobility.  Without legal identities, children can be denied access to basic services such as schooling. Without details of their age, they cannot be easily protected against child labour, recruitment into armed forces or militias, human trafficking, early marriage and other forms of exploitation.
 
UNICEF figures point out that by mid-century almost 1 in every 3 children globally will live in Africa. And yet, only 44 per cent of Africa’s children under the age of five have their births registered, mainly in rural areas, meaning that half of all African children are not counted as citizens. And this problem also deeply affects other developing regions, and requires our urgent attention.
 
I am glad to see that this UN agency keeps up the hard work in this regard, and I am proud to say that it counts on the European Union support on it. For instance, together we are implementing a project to improve children registration in eight countries across Africa, Asia and the Pacific. These eight countries are Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Mozambique, Uganda, Kiribati, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. Thanks to this initiative, the existing registration processes will be replaced by new and better ones, to make sure that records are not lost and can be retrieved.
 
The new registration systems, which for the first time, will make registration free, will use more efficient digital techniques and include mobile technology that allows people to get registered even in remote areas. This will also help countries to have a clear picture of their demographic trends, which is key to defining sustainable development strategies for the future.
 
As a result, millions of people will be able to enjoy access to healthcare, attend school and vote in elections for the first time. Simple things that we often also take for granted.

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