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Government and UNICEF to strengthen birth registration system in Myanmar

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The births of three out of ten under five children in Myanmar have not been officially recorded.

Nay Pyi Taw, 28th July 2014 : A National forum on accelerating birth registration in Myanmar was conducted at Thingaha Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw on 28th July 2014, a joint event between UNICEF and government ministries, to identify strategies for strengthening birth registration for all children in Myanmar.

Birth registration is a critical first step towards the fulfilment of a whole range of children’s rights including entitlement to services such as health and education.  Knowing the age of a person is central to protecting children from labour, forcible conscription in armed forces, child marriage and trafficking, and for ensuring they are dealt with appropriately by the justice system.  A birth certificate may support the tracing and repatriation of children who are trafficked.  All such issues are highly relevant to Myanmar.
The forum was opened by His Excellency U Kyaw Kyaw Win, Deputy Minister of Immigration and Population. The Deputy Minister of Planning, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Deputy Minister of Health and Deputy Minister of Social Welfare Relief and Resettlement also participated in the event.

The forum discussed the progress achieved on birth registration to date and future directions for the birth registration system in the country. Participants recommended that a Civil Registration Law should be developed, and to appoint a Civil Registrar General to coordinate and lead further development of the birth registration system. The forum also recommended removing restrictions on the registration of children over 5 years of age.

Myanmar has made considerable progress on birth registration in recent years, nevertheless, the births of 3 out of 10 children under 5 (around 1.6 million children) are not officially recorded in Myanmar.  Furthermore, there are wide differences across Myanmar – while most children in Yangon are registered, 41 per cent of children in Rakhine State and 76 per cent of children in Chin State do not possess a birth certificate.
Since January 2013, UNICEF Myanmar has collaborated with the government of Myanmar under an EU-funded multi-country project to increase the coverage of birth registration through strengthened birth registration services. The main components of the programme are i) providing technical assistance to birth registration system strengthening and capacity building at national and sub-national level, ii) creating an electronic platform for birth registration which can be the base for a civil register and will link with wider systems of e-governance in Myanmar and iii) creating demand for birth registration through awareness raising at national level and in three states and regions; Mon, Chin and Magwe.

The Coordination Committee for Birth Registration chaired by His Excellency the Deputy Minister of Immigration and Population U Kyaw Kyaw Win was set up in early 2014 and has improved coordination between agents involved in birth registration at local level.

The forum discussed communication for awareness raising among the general population as a strategy to increase demand for birth registration. Participants endorsed the proposal for a birth registration week to be arranged in late October to combine increased awareness raising efforts with boosted efforts to register children.



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