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Timor-Leste launches National Birth Registration Campaign

Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao
© UNICEF Timor Leste
Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao led the beginning of making innovative ways of making birth registration easier for parents. One of the ways is providing the birth registration at the National Hospital.

22 February 2011, Dili, Timor-Leste – Children in Timor-Leste get a further boost in claiming their rights with the launch of the National Birth Registration Campaign.  Timor-Leste, one of the youngest nation in the world, launched the campaign which runs from 21 to 25 February 2011. It aims to cover over 200,000 children below 5 years of age who have not yet been registered.

Birth registration is the official recording of the birth of a child by the State. It is a permanent and official record of a child’s existence. To prepare for Timor-Leste’s national campaign, all 442 village (suco) chiefs were trained to fill up the birth notification form.

Need to still catch up
Records show that in 2003 only 2 out of 10 Timorese children were registered at birth. There has been some improvement since then with the 2010 Census showing that 5 out of 10 children are now registered at birth. But half of the Timorese children under five years of age are still not being registered.

“The Birth Registration Campaign signifies our Government’s commitment to make each child registered at birth. This is one of way of ensuring the right of every Timorese child. We are making birth registration easier for parents,” Acting Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres said during the launching ceremony.

Going to the nearest village chief
The campaign is a signal that the system will make it easier for parents to quickly register their children. All they have to do is go to their respective suco (village) chief for the notification. This system will also help ensure that the poorest, who are usually found in the very remote areas and who will not find time to walk several hours to the capital town to register their children, can now register their children with ease. The suco chief along with the other relevant ministers, faith-based organizations, partners and parents are all playing a crucial role in the birth registration.

“I am confident, that with all of us working together, we will achieve our target of registering almost 200,000 children who are under five of age who have not yet been registered within 5 days,” said Mr. Jun Kukita, Representative of UNICEF Timor-Leste.

Registration is important to provide children with proof of Timorese identity and ensure that children enroll in school at the right age.  It will also help ensure that the Government can plan for basic social services such as schools and health services for every child. With the birth registration, children can also be protected from illegal adoption, child labour, trafficking, unlawful arrests and detention.

To help boost birth registration, five institutions signed a Memorandum of Agreement to help parents on the registration process.   These institutions include Ministry of Justice and the Ministries of States Administration, Health, Education and Religious Sector. 

For more information, please contact:
Mary Ann Q. Maglipon, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Timor-Leste. +670-7231103



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