Plan has praised the '1st Latin American Regional Conference on Birth Registration and the Right to Identity' as a giant step in the battle to register children currently living without any birth certificate or legal identity.

The sheer numbers highlight the scale of the issue facing the continent. Throughout the region, 1 in 6 children born do not legally exist because they were not registered at birth and have no formal or official identity.

Without a birth certificate millions of children are excluded from basic services such as health and education and face daily exploitation and risk.

Invisible communities
While the numbers of unregistered vary from between 12-35% throughout the region, closer inspection reveals a very different picture with entire communities or ethnic groups who simply do not exist: they have no official contact with the state, receive nothing from the state, and give nothing to the state.

Speaking from the Paraguayan capital Asuncin, Plan Chief Executive Officer Tom Miller said: “These numbers are staggering and increasing dramatically. Each year 2,000,000 children are born with no legal identity. Every day and everywhere people without any legal form of identity fight a constant uphill struggle for active involvement in society and access to their basic rights and social services.

”In an increasingly complex world, birth registration and identity will become increasingly vital for the governments of the region. As urban migration and limited resources increase, the need for clear and precise population information will become even more valuable. That is why we need sustainable solutions now.”

Achieving consensus
The conference, the first of its kind in the region, is bringing together the leading experts on birth registration from 18 countries, to find common ways to deal with the rapidly growing issue.

It is designed to achieve consensus and form the basis of regional and national plans that will guarantee free, universal and timely birth registration for all children by 2015.

Find out more about Plan’s universal birth registration campaign.

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Millions of “invisible” children

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