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UNICEF chief applauds Afghan birth registration effort

775,000 children registered in less than one year during unique campaign

KABUL/NEW YORK, 6 October 2003 - UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy, speaking on the second day of a visit to Afghanistan, today congratulated the Afghan Transitional Government for an “unparalleled success” in registering the births of 775,000 children under the age of one.

Bellamy offered her congratulations during a meeting with the Afghan Ministry of Interior which, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and UNICEF, has been spearheading the drive to register all children under the age of one by the end of 2003.

The campaign is unique in that it utilises the services of polio vaccinators, combining the birth registration effort with Afghanistan’s National Polio Immunization Days held throughout the year. Since May, vaccination teams have registered 97% of all children in the target age group, reaching every single household in the country.

Bellamy, who is on her third visit to Afghanistan, said today “The registration of each child creates capacity – the capacity for a child to enter education at the right age and the capacity to receive essential health care during those vital early years. And by registering the births of Afghanistan’s children, we can enable the Government and its partners to plan future services more effectively. This campaign is therefore a keystone in the development of Afghanistan’s children.”

“Many people would not have believed that such a success could be possible in a country still emerging from 23 years of conflict. The fact that the Government has made such progress in such a short time-span is a testimony to the commitment and resourcefulness of those involved in the campaign,” she said.

“The next step is to support the Government in re-establishing a routine birth registration system that will further enhance the protection of children in this country against risks such as abduction, trafficking and exploitation,” Bellamy added.

During the campaign, teams of polio vaccinators accessed communities across Afghanistan – often resorting to horses, bicycles and walking through difficult terrain to reach households. All children under the age of one receive a personalised birth registration card, containing key information including their name, age and family details. A second copy of the card is retained by the Ministry of Interior, with details inputted to a national database that can be accessed by central and local planners.

UNICEF, with financial support from UNICEF’s National Committee in Japan, has contributed US$500,000 to the costs of the 2003 campaign.

For more information contact:

Chulho Hyun, UNICEF Media, Kabul: +93 (0) 702 78493
Edward Carwardine, UNICEF Media, Kabul: +93 (0) 702 74729
Gordon Weiss, UNCIEF Media, New York: +1 212 326 7426


 

 

 

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