Real lives

Real lives


More children are getting birth certificates in the Kvemo Kartli region of Georgia

© UNICEF/Geo-IMG 2442/Marika Amurvelashvili
Maia Kuparadze, UNICEF Child Protection Officer, is handing over birth certificates to parents of unregistered children in Dmanisi, Kvemo Kartli region of Georgia. 28 January, 2009

By Temur Bardzimashvili
For UNICEF Georgia
January 2009

Only a week ago Emzar Huseinov’s three-year-old only son was not listed in any official registry. A resident of Georgian village Mamishlo, Dmanisi region, 40-year-old Huseinov did not have time to get a birth certificate for his son because of his work. Huseinov is a shepherd.“Most of the time I spend with my sheep,” he said. “We didn’t have time to get to the center to register. But now I just need to do that, how can a person live without the document?”
The reasons for registering his children are even more pragmatic for Binal Valiev, 48. The physics teacher at the Dmanisi school, he missed the opportunity to get financial aid of annual 1000 lari (600 USD) just because he did not receive the birth certificates for the two of his children on time. This amount was provided by the state program financially supporting socially vulnerable families per every newborn child during the five years.
“I ran to the Register’s office, but couldn’t get document on time. Now it’s too late, those 1000 lari are lost,” said he. “But I need to register them anyways, my son, Kara, is five, and he needs to go to school soon.”
Inability to enter school without registration documentation is among all the other social issues that encourage residents of Dmanisi region to get birth certificates for their children. On January 28 more than usual number of locals gathered in the Civil Registry Agency’s Dmanisi office, to attend the distribution of birth certificates for more than 30 children.
The distribution of birth certificates was part of the ten month project on registering children’s birth in the Kvemo Kartli Region and addressing the problems hindering civil registration. The project that started in July 2008 aimed at reducing to a minimum a number of unregistered children in Kvemo Kartli. In particular, it envisaged to raise an awareness of people about the importance of birth registration as well as about concrete procedures of registration. The objective was to identify and to register all unregistered persons, and to provide the relevant legal consultations. 
The UNICEF conducted survey revealed that only 78 percent of children in Kvemo Kartli were registered. “It meant that 22 per cent of children in Kvemo Kartli had less chance to enjoy their rights to be protected and to have equal access to early development, free and compulsory basic education, professional training and employment in adulthood, quality medical assistance, to a range of social allowances and services that are established and offered by the government,” said Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Georgia.
As a result, UNICEF in collaboration with the Civil Registry of Georgia, the Ministry of Justice, Kvemo Kartli regional administration and UNHCR initiated the project to address the issue. The project is being implemented by the Georgian Non-Governmental Organization “Legal Development and Consultations Group”.  

© UNICEF/Geo-IMG 2543/Marika Amurvelashvili
Giorgi Vashadze, chairman of the Civil Registry Agency of Georgia is handing birth certificates to three children of Abdin Yusubov, Aitach, Mahir and Aida. 28 January, 2009

One of the obstacles of birth registration is limited understanding among the population of Kvemo Kartli of the importance of registering newborns. Kvemo Kartli region, populated mostly by ethnic minorities, such as Azeris, Armenians and Greeks, has its own specifics, related to economics, mentality and cultural peculiarities. Traditions, difficulties to get to the town from the remote villages and travel related expenses are behind an increased number of home deliveries in this region. This makes it rather difficult to reveal the newborn child in order to register him or her. In addition to this, many parents themselves do not have passports or identification cards.
As a part of the project, all unregistered children were identified by the NGO “Legal Development and Consultations Group”. According to Nato Gagnidze, the head of the project, 277 children have got the registration so far. Many more are on the way. “We expect about 1400 more children to be registered by the end of the first phase of the project in March,” said Gagnidze. “However, the further research might change this number, as well as to reveal some other problems connected to registering residents of Kvemo Kartli, so we expect the project to extend for six more months.”
Giorgi  Vashadze, chairman of the Civil Registry Agency, who handed over birth certificates to 35 unregistered  children in Dmanisi, thinks his ultimate goal is to leave no unregistered child behind.
“The most important thing is that by the end of the project there are no unregistered children in the Kvemo Kartli region,” said Vashadze. “But what is even more important, is that future newborns would be registered intensively, without any obstacles.”
Not all beneficiaries, who were given the birth certificates that day, could attend the event. Abdin Yusubov, a father of three, said he had no money to travel to the center from village Vake, located within ten kilometers far from Dmanisi. The Civil Registry and NGO representatives decided to visit him to hand the birth certificates to his three children, Aitach, Mahir and Aida. Currently unemployed, 31-year-old Abdin says that was glad to finally get the papers for his children, and now they can go to school without any delay.
“Only Aitach, who is eight, went to school so far, thanks to the head of the school, who allowed her to attend classes without a certificate,” said Yusubov. 7-year-old Mahir will go to school starting the next fall, while Aida, 6, still has one more year ahead.
As the project on registering children’s birth in the Kvemo Kartli continues, less and less parents will need to persuade heads of the Kvemo Kartli schools to let their children attend classes without birth certificate. And if the registration of newborns is a regular process and people well understand the importance of birth registration, then shepherds, like Huseinov, will not need to leave their herds to get their newborn son or daughter a birth certificate.



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