UNICEF is supporting the Myanmar Government in launching Birth Registration week in Ayeyarwady region, Kayin and Kayah states. According to the UNICEF press release, the campaign will issue free birth certificates to all unregistered children under five living in those three areas, regardless of their place of birth within Myanmar, as well as ethnic, religious or social background. In total, an estimated 100,000 children are expected to have their births registered for the first time.
The national Birth Registration programme is a collaborative effort by the Government Ministries of Immigration and Population, National Planning and Economic Development, Health, and Home Affairs, with UNICEF technical support.
According to the press release, Myanmar has made significant progress in birth registration rates in recent years. In 2014, the number of children receiving a birth certificate in Myanmar substantially increased, with peaks in the three states where interventions were concentrated (20% increased coverage in Mon State, 41% in Magwe, and 300% increase in Chin state – where the coverage was the lowest in the country).
However, around 1.6 million children, or three out of ten children aged under five years, remain unregistered
Shalini Bahuguna, UNICEF Deputy Representative to Myanmar said that“Birth registration is a critical first step towards the fulfilment of a whole range of children’s rights. It is both a right and an important process for child protection . . . Knowing a person’s age is equally essential to protecting children from child labour, forcible conscription in armed forces, and trafficking, and for ensuring children are dealt with appropriately by the justice system.”
The campaign begins 4 Mayand covers 40 townships and will run until May 8.