BY EMMANUEL MGBEAHURIKE, Owerri
UNICEF has advised parents/guardians in the 27 local government areas of the state to always ensure official registration of their babies upon birth.
This, the Agency stressed, establishes the existence of a child under the law and thus provides the foundation for safeguarding many of a child’s civil, political, economic and cultural rights.
This Directive was given by the UNICEF Chief Of Field Office, Enugu, Dr. Ibrahim Conteh while representing an address at a two day training workshop of End Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for community champions in Ihitte Uboma, held at the Council Headquarters, Isinweke, which was organized by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) with support from UNICEF.
Giving a vivid explanation of the importance of birth registration and birth certificate, Dr. Conteh stressed that apart from providing legal identity to the child, the measure also provides access to healthcare, actualization of the rights of the child as well as protection from abuse.
For a child born outside the hospital, Dr. Conteh enjoined parents to visit the LGA where the child was born and obtain an affidavit to serve as the proof of birth.
According to him, birth registration gives legal identity to the child and opens up world of opportunities to the child. Dr Conteh who was represented by the UNICEF Consultant, for FGM, Imo and Ebonyi States, Benjamin Mbakwem revealed that certain rights, such as right to inherit property, may be denied the child as a result of no proof of birth certificate.
He explained that lack of birth registration makes a child vulnerable to crimes and abuse, since the Government has no evidence of the Childs existence.
His words, “take the affidavit to the National Population (NPopC) registration centre at the LGA headquarters or health facility or any other NPC office designated. When you get to the registration office, submit the affidavit to the registration officer and a birth certificate is then issued for the child”, he stated.
Dr. Conteh who also spoke on child protection those responsible for protecting children, the needs and rights of a child and the consequences of FGM said that traditional rulers, Town Union, Presidents General, Custodians of culture, women and youth, groups, village/clan/ Kindred heads, vigilante group and Town criers and other stakeholders who have crucial role to play in child protection.
He explained that they could get involved by acknowledging the prevalence of violence against children and women in the community, identifying the various forms of violence against them, commitment to and collaboration with formal sectors/structure to facilitate reporting and response services (Police social welfare, Health, NOA, Child protection Network, Community based organizations, Faith Based Organizations, Civil Society Organizations, Judiciary and Education).
According to him, when these measures are put in place, the communities would have taken responsibility and set mechanism in place on war against FGM and other social vices militating against children and woman in the society.
Speaking, the state Director NOA, Dr. Vitus Ekeocha urged the people to brace up and join the league of communities that eradicated FGM in their localities. According to him, the citizens are being sensitized on a regular basis on the ills of this ugly practice and realized that it is an ill wind that blows no one any good.
He submitted that the inhabitants of Ihitte-Uboma community should set motion in place towards eliminating such practice within their various localities.
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