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Renewed efforts underway to increase level of birth registration in Sudan

KHARTOUM, 28 July 2009 – Partners from Sudan’s Government of National Unity, state-level authorities, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations will come together Wednesday in Khartoum amidst efforts spearheaded by the Ministry of Interior and the National Council for Child Welfare to increase the rate of birth registration in Sudan .

According to the 2006 Sudan Household Health Survey, less than one-third of children in Sudan have a birth certificate, leaving the others vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and at risk of being denied access to key social services such as health and education.

Speaking ahead of the workshop, UNICEF’s acting Representative to Sudan, Per Engebak, underlined the importance of birth registration as a fundamental right that safeguarded opportunities for later life.

“Birth registration itself protects many other human rights that contribute in turn to a child’s successful development and protection,” he said.

“Without birth registration, children’s access to basic social services such as education and health care are put at risk. Without documented proof of age, a child is exposed to the risk of under-age recruitment, to exploitative child labour and to the evil of trafficking. Without that simple piece of paper in their hands, children who are separated from their families in times of crisis may be unable to provide critical information that would help with their reunification.”

In addition to protecting children’s rights, birth registration is also considered as an important tool for national and state-level planning, as data collected through birth registration can be used to predict demand for services in years ahead. Such data also helps to identify anticipated resource needs, and therefore helps with budgeting for social service provision.

The two day workshop starting tomorrow brings together partners from government, United Nations and non-governmental organizations to identify key constraints to birth registration and to design national and state-level action plans to overcome such barriers and scale up birth registration activities across Sudan.

The workshop, organized through the national Universal Birth Registration Task Force which was established by a Ministerial decree from the Ministry of Interior and the Sudan Police Force, will look at innovative systems and experiences from other countries and discuss specific challenges related to accessing hard-to-reach communities, as well as examining ways of integrating birth registration systems with other services such as healthcare and education to increase the reach and effectiveness of registration processes. Organizers also hope that the discussions will help expand the number of agencies supporting birth registration activities, and strengthen a national network dedicated to increasing birth registration in Sudan.

For further information, please contact:
Edward Carwardine, UNICEF Sudan
Mobile + 249 (0)912 177 291
E-mail: ecarwardine@unicef.org

Douglas Armour, UNICEF Southern Sudan Area Programme
Mobile: + (249) (0) 928 278 975 / (249) (0) 913 143 481
E-mail: darmour@unicef.org

Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, UNICEF Middle East and North Africa
Mobile + 962 (6) 550 2407
E-mail: arghandour@unicef.org




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