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Farzana Wahidy/AP
An orphaned Afghan girl listens to her teacher during Quran-i- Sharif class in a Kabul
dormitory.

Afghanistan Eyes Newborns with Birth Certificate Drive

July 02, 2008 06:58 AM
by Devin Felter
The Afghan government will be partnering with the United Nations in an attempt to provide all newborns with birth certificates.

30-Second Summary

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Afghanistan’s government says that less than 1 percent of its citizens have birth certificates, which makes it difficult to provide children with medical care and properly funded schooling.

Beginning in Kabul, the nation’s capital, the United Nations will be assisting the Afghani government’s push to register all of the country’s newborns before the end of 2009.

But the birth certificate drive is not merely about health care and education. “Having identity, proper identity, is everyone’s human right,” says Najibullah Hameem, a UNICEF child protection specialist in Kabul.

UNICEF, the UN branch funding the program, has been working with other governments facing similar problems. The organization launched a Madagascar birth certificate campaign in 2004, and also began to assess the problem in Latin America in August of 2007.

The work by UNICEF mirrors Pakistan’s recent efforts to account for Afghani refugee children with the help of the UNHCR, the UN group that specializes in refugee rights. This program attempted to provide birth certificates to children born in the 15 refugee camps designed to shelter Afghanis who had fled the war in Afghanistan in 2001.

The war-torn regions in Afghanistan will pose many problems for its government and UNICEF as they begin their attempt at complete newborn registration. Widespread conflict and the difficulty of reaching remote locations will be two of the main hurdles in making the 2009 goal a success.

Headline Link: Kabul begins attempt at complete birth registration

Background: UNICEF and birth certificates

Related Topics: Birth certificates for refugees and child rights

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