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Photo essay: Yemeni children are receiving their passport for life


A group of children from Taiz holding their long-awaited birth certificates, allowing them to finally have access to one of their fundamental rights.

Story by Ali Qasem Ali, Communication Officer, UNICEF Aden Field Office

Aden and Lahj, Yemen, 24 December 2018 – Do you have a name and surname? Do you know the date you were born? Are these data included in your identification? Then you are privileged compared to the children in Yemen. Nearly 83% of the children in the country do not have a birth certificate, which means they have no legal identity, no right to a name, nationality or family relations. This makes them invisible to the world.

Not having a registration affects particularly children from displaced or marginalised communities, who are already suffering from various other forms of discrimination. For Ali Nasr and other many children, this has recently changed, the young 5-year old boy from a marginalized community, the Muhamasheen, received his birth certificate on 3rd December 2018.


Ali Nasr has a smile on his face after receiving his birth certificate.

One of the key activities carried out by UNICEF’s Child Protection programme in the country, is to support birth registration. Every year, there are over 900,000 new-born babies across Yemen, but those registered still remain a few.


“I am so glad today because I obtained this birth certificate for my younger child. I am confident that this will help him to acquire all his rights as a Yemeni citizen,” says Noura Ahmed, from Lahj governorate, with her son.

A birth certificate is a passport to citizenship and participation in society, and the foundation for the realization of many other human rights integral to a child’s development, protection and well-being.

Without birth registration, children’s access to basic social services such as education and health care may be at risk. That’s why UNICEF and its contributing donors are intervening to make sure that children in Yemen can have access to this fundamental right.


Parents queuing to obtain birth certificates in one of the civil status centers in Daar Saad district, in Aden governorate.


“I thought that with the ongoing conflict my son Munsef wouldn’t be able to receive his birth certificate, and I was surprised and shocked today when, after such a long time, we finally received it here in our small town, without having to travel anywhere,” happily tells Mohammed Abdulkawi, from Almelah district, in Lahj governorate.


A member of the civil committee handing a birth certificate to one of the beneficiaries in Al-Melah district, in Lahj governorate.

Through its Child Protection programme, UNICEF, with the support of the local authorities and its implementing partners, targets the most vulnerable children in conflict-affected areas of Yemen with interventions including victim assistance, family tracing and reunification, documentation of child rights violations and referrals to child protection services.

UNICEF and the European Union remain committed to support birth registration within the context of an overall child protection system, recognizing the link between non-registration and the risk of exploitation and abuse.

With the contribution of the European Union, UNICEF continues to engage with the Civil Registration Authority to support the implementation of a new birth registration system through capacity building activities, rapid campaigns and the roll-out of a routine birth registration electronic system, which has been installed in 44 different locations in four governorates across the country.

 

 
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