The UN refugee agency, UNHCR has welcomed the decision by Kazakhstan to ensure that all babies born in the country be registered at birth and issued birth certificates.
The country amended its Code on Marriage and Family this month, to allow universal birth registration for all children regardless of the legal status of their parents.
“This will benefit children born to parents who are undocumented in Kazakhstan and people with undetermined nationality; and will also prevent children from becoming stateless in the future,” Yasuko Oda, UNHCR’s Regional Representative for Central Asia, said on Thursday.
UNHCR explained that lack of birth registration and a birth certificate can make it difficult for a person to prove where they were born, as well as family ties, thus blocking their entitlement to the nationality of any state.
While Kazakhstan has a birth registration rate of almost 100 per cent, children born to undocumented migrants and people with undetermined nationality were previously unable to have their births officially recorded.
The legislative amendments follow commitments made in October at a meeting on statelessness, where the authorities pledged to improve access to birth registration procedures.
In 2014, UNHCR launched a 10-year campaign to address statelessness called #IBelong. Since then, agency partners have identified more than 5,000 people in Kazakhstan who could be affected, many of whom were children who lacked birth registration and birth certificates.
So far, more than 1,500 have received assistance, 10 per cent of whom were children whose births were not registered because their parents were undocumented.
UNHCR says millions of people around the world are stateless, meaning they are denied basic rights and official recognition.
Although data from 78 countries puts the figure at some 3.9 million, the agency believes the number is significantly higher. (Source: UN News)