Zambian Minister Says Nation Committed to Recording Vital Events of Refugees in the Country
By Winston Mwale
Many of Africa’s children are not registered at birth
Zambia is committed to the registration of vital events occurring among refugees and internally displaced persons with 1,465 refugees provided with identity cards in 2018, according to Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo.
In a speech during the opening ceremony of the fifth conference of African Ministers responsible for Civil Registration and Vital Statistics, Mr. Kampyongo said the government of Zambia also provided birth registration for refugees in the country.
Many of Africa’s children are not registered at birth. According to UNICEF, the births of 2 in 3 infants in Africa south of the Sahara remain unregistered, and 3 out of every 4 lack a birth certificate.
It is projected that if the current trends continue, the number of unregistered children aged below 5 in the region will soar to nearly 115 million by 2030.
“These children lack the means to claim protection by law. Studies show that the lack of an official identity disproportionately affects the poorest and the most vulnerable groups, mainly women, children and girls, migrants, refugees, stateless persons and people living in remote areas,” said Mr. Kampyongo.
He said the fact that an estimated 550 million Africans lacked legal identity was the reason the ministers were gathered in Lusaka for their fifth conference to identify sustainable strategies to close the identity gap to ensure every African was visible and had means to prove their identity.
“Let there be no doubt, the invisibility will be a thing of the past in a few years as we adapt innovative approaches and new technologies in our quest towards universal and efficient civil registration,” the Minister said.
He also said Zambia was moving forward in adopting innovative approaches to improving civil registration.
Mr. Kampyongo recognized and commended the growth in the diversity of stakeholders now engaged in the Africa CRVS dialogue, spanning from civil registration officials to national statistics officials, health sector representatives, national identity experts, non-governmental organizations, international agencies and the private sector.
He said there was political commitment on the continent and in Zambia to civil registration and vital statistics.
“Zambia is therefore poised for greater achievements in improving civil registration and vital statistics. It is my desire that all member states give the needed support at the highest level to continue this important dialogue,” the Minister said.
“It is now widely recognized that civil registration systems form a solid foundation for sustainable national identity systems. Zambia has taken significant steps in improving its CRVS landscape.”
Zambia is among the first African countries to conduct comprehensive CRVS assessments and formulating improvement plans.