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Unregistered children

© Anthony Asael/UNICEFBosnia and Herzegovina

The fact that in Bosnia and Herzegovina exist thousands of children whose very birth has not been registered is very significant and alarming. A research done recently by two entity Ombudsman’s offices revealed that, in several municipalities only, there was at least 6,000 children who were born in hospitals in the period 1992 - 2001 but whose names were not entered into birth registers. Konjic proved to have 90 children whose names were not registered; the Centar municipality in Sarajevo had 1,485 such children; Tuzla 2,825; the Mostar municipalities of South-West, West and South 345; and the municipality Stari Grad, Mostar - 82 unregistered children. Since these children do not exist from the perspective of the state or registration, there is a possibility of serious danger in terms of protection of the lives of these children and they may be subject to abuse or harassment, which may be difficult to prove.

The reasons why parents failed to duly register children are different: from non-possession of documentation required for registration, in most cases the mother's ID, to the lack of information on the procedure of registration (legal time limits for reporting newborns, for example.  Not reporting childbirth leads to denying children's right to health care, social welfare, education, refugee status and represents the negligence and irresponsible behavior of parents. At a very early age, this is related to the impossibility of regular vaccination and later schooling. It is indicative that the social protection services themselves know the children but no-one has tried to examine their status in terms of registration, and thus education, vaccination, etc.

© Anthony Asael/UNICEF BiH

(a story told to a researcher by a Roma mother) ”Almost immediately after birth the mothers leave the maternity clinic without paying the delivery costs because they have no money; because of this, they are not given a dismissal letter when they leave the maternity clinic but only when (and if) they have paid the costs.”  However, the maternity clinic registration, the records of which are kept for each individual day, in fact includes all the information regarding the delivery itself, meaning the time of the delivery, the sex of the child, parents' details. But in reality, in order to give a name, not even a dismissal letter for the child is required, let alone that for the mother.



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