More than 230 million children around the world have never been registered at birth and in the eyes of their country do not exist. As a result, these children will grow up stateless, with no official identity or citizenship. They will be “invisible” in society and, indeed, in the world.
Approximately 37% of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa. 600,000 of them are under the age of five and live in Senegal.
Having an identity is a fundamental human right which allows each individual to enjoy all of their rights.
Identity includes a person’s family name, date of birth, gender and nationality. Through these details, an individual will hold rights and obligations specific to their status.
The principal cause of statelessness is the failure to register a child at the time of birth. This may be the result of various factors, including economic hardship or parents not understanding the importance in registering their child’s birth.
Children with no official document will not be able to take advantage of the services to which they are entitled, such as schooling and health care. In addition, they do not benefit from the protection of their fundamental rights, and they have no protection against exploitation and abuse, including forced labor and sex trafficking.
The right of each child to have an identity
Article 8 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child protects children’s right to “preserve their identity, including their nationality, name and family relations, without unlawful interference.”
In addition, States are required to help children regain any aspect of their identity that has been taken away from them illegally.
Un Enfant par la Main, a member of ChildFund Alliance based in France, helps children in many countries around the world to grow up in better conditions.
Since 2013, Un Enfant par la Main has registered 2,000 Malian children and 2,000 Indonesian children. This year, it is launching a birth registration program in Senegal, with the aim of offering a birth certificate to 1,000 Senegalese children.
About Un Enfant par la Main
Un Enfant par la Main works with ChildFund Alliance and local partners in the areas of child protection, health, education, access to water, nutrition and income-generation activities. It works with communities to reduce poverty and improve the living conditions of children and their families. Communities and families are involved in the identification of needs and development of intervention strategies and action plans.