Every child has the right from birth to a name and acquisition of nationality – a formally proven identity.
Beninese singer-songwriter and leading UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Angelique Kidjo, recently visited her own place of birth to shed light upon the difficulties still facing many newborn children and their families. An account by UNICEF documents her trip to a commune in Ekpe at the south-easterly tip of the country, where poverty and geographical remoteness hinder development.
A legal birth registration is a child’s ticket to citizenship, without this children become extremely vulnerable to exploitation of every kind. They are prevented from obtaining national identity cards, banks accounts and crucially a right to education from the state. Angelique proclaimed on her visit, ‘each child deserves a birth certificate that will pave the way for his education, for a brighter future, and protect him against child trafficking.’
UNICEF continues to globally publicise such demanding issues, yet the power to improve this system as always lies with the state government, who Angelique Kidjo called out to aid those families in rural areas. Illiteracy is still prevalent in these areas and impoverished families are often reluctant to sacrifice money allowances for food in exchange for the legal forms needed to register their child. ‘Many bottlenecks still affect the birth registration process,’ said Anne Vincent, UNICEF Representative in Benin, ‘we should therefore work hand-in-hand with the Government to improve the birth registration system.’
In recent years great effort has been made within Sub-Saharan Africa and other developing countries to tackle this issue, yet astonishingly four out of every ten new-born Beninese children still do not possess any legal existence due to a lack of official birth registration. Concluding her sentiments, Angelique Kidjo stated ‘When a child does not have a birth certificate, his future is jeopardized. He is like a ghost.’
Largely due to the high costs involved in obtaining the appropriate forms for those in rural, poorer areas, spiraling bureaucracy is preventing many infants from the most basic of human rights and equity.
Read the full account from UNICEF here: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/benin_61409.html