2 December 2011 Thousands of children from indigenous communities in the southern Mexican states of Chiapas and Oaxaca received birth certificates after sustained calls from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for free birth registration.
Many indigenous families, who already live in places with high levels of social exclusion, are unable to obtain birth certificates as they are not free throughout the country. However, some states are starting to provide them free of cost.
“This is one further step in our efforts to support Mexico in achieving universal birth registration,” said UNICEF Representative in Latin America Susana Sottoli. “Only through prompt registration, children can enjoy the right to an identity and to equitable access to all services. And only if this is provided for free, this can become a reality.”
The promotion of birth registration is essential to facilitate access to basic services such as education and health care.
“Our role as UNICEF is to support society and governments uncover the predicament of children who are not registered, identify where they are, and ensure their registration through various strategies, guaranteeing their right to a name and a nationality, and subsequent access to health, social and education services,” said UNICEF Deputy Representative in Mexico Javier Alvarez.
UNICEF is currently working with the national statistical bureau to analyze the situation of birth registration in every municipality in the country. While 93.4 per cent of children are registered, certain states such as Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Puebla – all places with indigenous and rural communities and a low level of human development – have a low registration rate. In Chiapas, for example, only 61.7 per cent of children were registered by their first birthday in 2009.
The agency has focused its work in the country on helping improve the legal framework, promoting birth registration in social policies such as health and education, and developing awareness initiatives, particularly through radio in indigenous languages, as well as improving access to registration in isolated areas.
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