Reclaiming Guinea Bissau's children
Bissau, Guinea Bissau, 11 May 2009 – Birth registration is still a major issue in Guinea Bissau. Only 34.8 per cent of children possess a birth certificate, according to the MICS III survey.
UNICEF’s concern about non-registered children is motivated by the vulnerability of such "nameless" children as potential victims of child trafficking and other forms of child exploitation.
The Guinea Bissau Ministry of Justice, in partnership with UNICEF, UNFPA and Plan GB organized a National Birth Registration Conference from 5 to 7 May 2009.
The conference’s objective was to prepare a national policy and strategy on birth registration in order to give all Guinea Bissau’s children a birth certificate.
At the opening ceremony, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Guinea Bissau, Latifou Salami, emphasized the importance of Article 7 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child that was ratified by Guinea Bissau in August 1990. “A non-registered child does not legally exist, therefore, easy to be trafficked, exploited or sexually abused”, he said.
The Governenment Representative on behalf of the Minister of Justice reiterated the government’s political will to continue collaborating with UNICEF and other partners in order to improve the birth registration system in Guinea Bissau.
During three days, 70 participants from different institutions discussed birth registration related issues and worked to define new strategies for Guinea-Bissau, based on experiences and lessons learned in the past.
The decentralization of relatedservices, partnership with the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Education, NGOs, community-based organizations and community leaders were strongly recommended.
The essence of the partnership is to create BR posts in hospitals where newly born babies are automatically registered before leaving the hospital. Teachers are to be involved through reporting non-registered school-age children to birth registration posts. And NGOs and CBOs, religious leaders, village chiefs, etc. will help sensitize the community.
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