Liberia gears up for post-Ebola birth registration drive

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Over 70,000 births were not registered during the Ebola outbreak in Liberia putting these children at risk. Photo: UNICEFLiberia/S.Grile

Liberia is facing the challenge of registering more than 70,000 children whose births were not recorded as a result of an outbreak of the deadly Ebola disease across West Africa.

The UN children's agency, UNICEF, said the crisis caused many health facilities to close or reduce their services, resulting in a nearly 40 per cent drop in birth registrations between 2013 and 2014.

The UN agency is helping the country to revamp registration systems as part of efforts to reach children not registered in 2014 and 2015.

Dianne Penn reports.

UNICEF said the Ebola outbreak in Liberia resulted in a sharp drop in birth registrations: from nearly 80,000 in 2013 to 48,000 the following year.

Just 700 babies reportedly had their births registered between January and May of this year, the agency added.

Sheldon Yett, UNICEF's Representative in Liberia, said "Children who have not been registered at birth officially don't exist."

Without citizenship, he added, they risk marginalization. They might be unable to access basic health and social services or obtain identity documents, thus making them vulnerable to being trafficked or illegally adopted.

The UN agency is supporting Liberia as it gets ready to mount a nationwide birth registration drive in the coming months.

It will assist with training, logistics, and outreach efforts ahead of the campaign.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 55″

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