BY ROBERT ELEMA
YUMBE. National Identification Registration Authority(NIRA) has encouraged the South Sudan refugees in Bidibidi refugee settlement in Yumbe district to register the births of their children.
The appeal was made during the commemoration of the belated second civil registration and vital statistics(CRVS) day for Africa at Bidibidi reception centre on Friday.
The ministers in Africa responsible for registration of persons took a decision to make sure that the commemoration of civil registration be on the 10th, August every year.
Mr Gilbert Kadilo the manager public relations and corporate affairs for NIRA said, birth registration is considered every child’s first right and is provided in the UN convention on the rights of the child as well as the African child’s data on the welfare and the data of the child.
“Our choice of Bidibidi as the venue for this celebration was because we recognised that the refugees being vunerably communities often go unnoticed and unrecorded, so it’s our consideration that this category of persons are fully incorporated into the civil registration processes in keeping our obligation to the global community”, he said.
He said registering and issuing of a birth certificate protects the human right of a child by giving the first official and legal identity of their own a legal relationship with the parents and it also helps to establish their citizenship and nationality.
“We noted that lack of birth registration exposes children to risks of being more vulnerable to exploitation. Issues of child marriages, enrolment of child soldiers into armed forces, child trafficking, child labour, child neglect, loss of inheritance rights in case of the death of a parent constitutes to some of the risks that they are exposed to if they are not registered”, he added.
Kadilo said in Uganda, about 32 per cent of the children aged 5years below have had their births registered but 68 per cent of chidren in this country and born to the refugee parents remained unregistered.
Ms Juliet Tajiri the UNHCR assistant protection officer said their role is to provide international protection to refugees but it’s hard for them to provide protection if they don’t have documentation for children specifically.
“One of our serious gaps in protection and documentation has been the birth registration for children that was why we have advocating with OPM to engage NIRA to support us in this gap”, she said.
She said during the data collection process, all the 47 implementing partners working in Bidibidi refugee settlement were involved including the refugee leaders which is attributed to the team spirit and cooperation among the stakeholders in the settlement.
Mr Gilbert Akuma the protection assistant in the office of the prime minister applauded the parliament of Uganda for enacting and using their legislative powers in creating NIRA as a government agency to cater for registration because as Ugandans, they have been behind interms of identification of the citizens.
“Now we have this government agency in place, I want to appeal to them to execute their work since we are behind the whole of the world”, he said.
He said the whole birth registration exercise in the settlement took about 4 weeks together with data entry.
“According to our records, we had a target of 10,000 but we managed to register 8,726 children. This didn’t come easy if there was no cooperation and team work among the partners”, he said.
He added, “Intially we had planned to register refugee children born in Uganda and the host community in the interest of peaceful co-existence because whenever a partner is doing some activity in the settlement, we have to involve the host community but this has never been done due to some challenges on the side of NIRA”.
He said statistics showed that there are over 20,000 children who deserve birth certificates in the settlement and also appealed to NIRA to begin engaging in death registration because most of the refugees have been in working class in South Sudan but others have lost their relatives in Uganda so for them to claim the benefits of the dead persons, they need evidence such as the death certificates.
Mr Richard Andama the Resident District Commissioner for Yumbe said they are looking towards absolute protection of the refugees and the host communities in the district.
“The registration exercise will help us in tracking the refugees and the host communities. It’s a part of development because the registration will enable us to know the population for easy planning”, he said. End.