The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Resident Representative, Mr. Sheldon Yett, has highlighted the importance of birth registration as society’s recognition and acknowledgement of a child’s identity and existence.
The UNICEF Boss made the statement yesterday in Monrovia while observing its 67th anniversary, which is celebrated worldwide every year on December 11.
According to him birth registration guarantees the child is counted so that they have access to education, health aid, and other important benefits that come from being counted in society.
He disclosed that Liberia was in the bottom four percentile among the 10 countries with the lowest birth registration in world, with Liberia being ranked second overall.
“Liberia is the second lowest in the world for children registration. There is still more work that needs to be done to increase the awareness on birth registration,” he stressed.
He called on the media and citizens to work tirelessly by educating new mothers on the importance of birth registration.
“Birth registration and certification are recognized as a right of the child in Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” The Coordinator of Universal Birth Registration, Mrs. Esther G. Thomas stated.
She said Article 7, of the Liberian constitution states that “The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.”
Mrs. Thomas disclosed that in the absence of birth registration, verification of age of any person is impossible, which has serious implications for young offenders, children working in the commercial sex trade, and child laborers who are being denied access to special protection or treatment provided by the law.
“This also makes the reduction of the early marriage of girls more difficult. Educational and health planning is also hampered by the absence of demographic data provided by birth registration,” she stressed.
Discussing the importance of a birth certificate, Mrs. Thomas said they serve as achild’s ticket to citizenship, which gives the child an identity, proof of existence, and the ability to exercise all other rights including civil and political rights.
“Birth registration at the MOHSW for children under 13 years is free of charge, while children above 13 pay five hundred Liberian Dollars ($500.00 LD) to get a birth certificate.”
She also told journalists that the implementation capacity has been strengthened in all the 15 counties to effectively manage, coordinate, and maintain a birth registration and certification system at the county level.
“The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, through its Bureau of Vital statistics, will ensure that the births of 90 percent of all children less than 13 years are retroactively registered and birth certificates issued.”