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97.7 per cent of births of children under age five in Kyrgyzstan have been registered according to UNICEF. While generally this registration rate seems high, there are invisible groups of children as over 18,000 children under the age of five lack birth registration.
“Birth registration is a key point to ensure that every child is counted and has access to essential services such as health, education and social protection. Registering children at birth is the first step in securing their recognition before the law, safeguarding their rights, and ensuring that any violation of these rights does not go unnoticed. A birth certificate as proof of birth can also support the traceability of separated children and those left behind by migrant parents or any other children in difficult living situation,” – said Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Representative in Kyrgyzstan.
The “Invisible children” installations were presented this week to the public in Bishkek by UNICEF and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as part of the EU funded project to support and raise awareness on the fundamental right of every child to birth registration, a name and a nationality.
“The right to be registered at birth is a fundamental human right and enshrined in international law. Birth registration is an integral part of avoidance of statelessness and it is closely linked to UNHCR’s mandate on prevention and reduction of statelessness. The lack of birth registration is not the same as statelessness, yet it heightens the risk of leaving children without a nationality, as the absence of birth registration may cause difficulties to a person to prove that he/she has a legal link to a state. Countries must ensure that their birth registration practices provide an opportunity for all children born in the country to be registered, and make the process streamlined and barrier-free.” – stressed Yasuko Oda, the UNHCR Regional Representative for Central Asia.
Bishkek citizens could observe “invisible” children’s installations in different public places, such as the main square, Osh market, trade center etc. Transparent installations of invisible children standing in natural poses have boxes with messages under their feet. The children installations stand for mandatory birth registration giving them access to their essential rights. The campaign was also supported by social media users calling on the public and parents specifically to be more responsible and to not deprive their children of their fundamental rights.
“The impact of birth registration goes beyond the individual and has vital importance for the State to promote good governance and accountability and improve service delivery. The European Union Delegation in Kyrgyzstan supports UNICEF’s efforts in protecting children affected by migration, including by addressing issues related to child statelessness”, – says Luca Carapelli, Attache, Project Manager of the European Union Delegation to Kyrgyzstan.
The “Invisible children” exhibition will be displayed on February 1, 2019 during a Parliamentary Round table on the topic of Birth Registration and Prevention of Childhood Statelessness in the Kyrgyz
Republic. Building on the efforts undertaken to improve birth registration and prevent childhood statelessness in Kyrgyzstan, UNHCR and UNICEF - under the Global Coalition on Every Child’s Right to a Nationality, in collaboration with the EU in Kyrgyzstan and the State Registration Service of the Kyrgyz Republic, convey a Round table to explore the next steps needed to eliminate the existing gaps and required actions for ensuring that all children born on the territory of the Kyrgyz Republic have access to birth registration and birth certificates. Members of Parliament, experts of line Parliamentarian Committees, State Registration Service under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, UNICEF and UNHCR will participate in discussions at the Round table.