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1 crore children under-5 left unregistered

Mohiuddin Alamgir

About one core children under-5 in the country do not officially exist as they do not have birth registration, according to a new report by UNICEF published on Wednesday.
Children unregistered at birth or without identification documents are often excluded from accessing education, health care and social security. If children are separated from their families during natural disasters, conflicts or as a result of exploitation, reuniting them is made more difficult by the lack of official documentation, said the report.
Seven out of 10 under-5 in the country do not officially exist as only 31 per cent of such children have birth registration, said the report titled ‘Every Child’s Birth Right : Inequities and Trends in Birth Registration’.
Bangladesh is in the fifth place among 10 countries with the largest numbers of unregistered children in the world.
According to UNICEF, which works for children’s rights, their survival, development and protection across the globe, there are 1.45 crore under-5 children in the country.
The report said the rate of registration of children under-5 increased—from 12 per cent in 2006 to 31 per cent in 2011.
There was inequality among rural and urban area children having birth certificates as in 35 per cent urban area children have registration while the rate was 29 per cent in the rural areas.
As per national policy, every child in Bangladesh needs to be registered within 45 days of birth. The Birth and Death Registration Act 2004, which came into force in 2006, provides a legal basis for the use of a birth certificate as proof of age to access services, including passport applications, school admissions and marriage registration.
It also mandates that the registration structure be instituted within the country’s decentralised government administration and obliges service providers, particularly in health and education, to facilitate birth registration. And in 2009, an online Birth Registration Information System was put in place, enabling local registrars and embassies abroad to register births and deaths and issue official certificates through a web-based application. All birth and death records are transmitted to and securely stored in a central database.
On UNICEF’s 67th anniversary, the organisation released the new report which also showed that the births of nearly 230 million children under-5 have never been registered; approximately 1 in 3 of all children under-5 around the world.
Every Child’s Birth Right: Inequities and Trends in Birth Registration, collected statistical analysis spanning 161 countries and presented the latest available country data and estimate on birth registration.
‘Birth registration is more than just a right. It’s how societies first recognise and acknowledge a child’s identity and existence,’ said Geeta Rao Gupta, UNICEF deputy executive director. ‘Birth registration is also key to guaranteeing that children are not forgotten, denied their rights or hidden from the progress of their nations.’
When contacted, Birth and Death Registration Project director AKM Saiful Islam Chowdhury told New Age that he did not think that one crore children under-5 were without birth registration.
The project registered about 15.89 crore births in the country until June 2013, he claimed.

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