From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja

In order to avoid a stateless situation, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Nigeria, has issued birth certificates to under 17 children in New Kuchingoro and Durumi Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Abuja.

The registration which kicked off on Tuesday in partnership with the National Population Commission (NPC) and the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), witnessed the registration of 370 children at the New Kuchingoro IDPs camp, while 600 were registered yesterday in Durumi.

Deputy Representative, UNHCR Nigeria, John Mckissick, said the initiative was a great one that on the 60th anniversary of the 1961 Convention on Reduction of Statelessness, they were in Abuja registering children who were at risk of statelessness by giving them a birth registration document.

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Mckissick, who noted that the registration was a little bit late for some of the children since it ought to have been done within 60 days after birth, said the requirement had been waved so that all the children can be registered.

“What a great way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 1961 Convention on Reduction of Statelessness which calls on countries to reduce statelessness by registering, giving birth certificates to children who were otherwise be at risk of statelessness.

“And why are these little kids at risk of statelessness? It is because their own mothers and fathers don’t have birth certificates themselves. So, we don’t know who are the mothers and fathers and where they come from.

“So, they are interviewing them, talking to them, finding out from them that the mothers and fathers of these children were also born in Nigeria. And then, they are giving these children also birth certificates which open up a lot of rights for them later on in life as Nigeria’s citizens – the right to go to school, the right for health care, the right to own land, the right eventually when they are grown up to own businesses – they all have to prove that they are Nigerians.”