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Many children go unregistered in West Africa: NGO

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DAKAR  (AFP) – Some 66 percent of births still go unregistered in parts of Africa, children’s rights group Plan International said Monday as the world marked the world’s population hitting the seven billion mark.

“Who’s counting the unregistered children in West Africa?” the organisation said in a statement.

Plan warned of the need for children to have their births registered in these countries where populations are doubling every 20 years, and authorities are unable to keep up with the growing demand for schools, health clinics and housing.

“Many children are going without access to quality education and, with no birth registration, they are almost invisible with no access to their basic human rights,” the rights group said in their statement.

According to the United Nations State of the Population 2011 report, the population of Africa will more than triple in the 21st century and is expected to add another billion people to the globe in just 35 years.

Proof of identity is needed to sit national exams at primary school and is a key to prove children’s real age and origin in cases of trafficking and child labor.

“If we want later on to have good citizens in our cities, they must be counted from birth so that their opinion will be taken into account, their voice will be heard and they will be able to make a difference in their society.” said Adama Coulibaly, Plan’s regional director in West Africa.

According to the NGO, in Liberia, only 16 percent of children are registered, in Niger 32 percent.

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