from RUDD KONTE in Bamako, Mali
BAMAKO, (CAJ News) – OVER 148 600 displaced children in Mali do not have state-issued birth certificates proving their legal identity.
This is more than half of the total number of displaced children in the West African country.
The situation deprives the children of their most basic rights as citizens and puts them at risk of being marginalised.
“Thousands of children are being benched from society when they should be on the bench at school,” said Maclean Natugasha, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Mali.
Mali has for years suffered conflict, the latest a coup in 2021.
“Ensuring the children hardest hit by the conflict can obtain their birth certificate is essential to enable them to overcome the violence, displacement, and hunger they have faced since the conflict started,” Natugasha said.
The official said while the Malian government invests in the restoration of public services and institutions, the lack of birth certificates has a profound and long-lasting impact on the lives and futures of displaced children.
Without them, children are barred from officially enrolling in formal schools, taking exams and obtaining educational certificates.
The lack of school and birth certificates combined will also deny children a fair chance at formal employment in the future.
Natugasha said access to civil documentation is a right for all citizens under international human rights laws and the Malian Civil Status Strategy adopted in 2018.
The official said the current legal framework should accommodate the extremely precarious situation of displaced children by making the procedure for obtaining birth certificates flexible and free of charge.
“Otherwise, the futures of thousands of children will be compromised,” Natugasha said.
– CAJ News