United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says Malawi has set a good example by starting the registration and issuing of birth certificates to refugee children born in the country.
At a Global Refugees Forum held in December 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland, Minister of Homeland Security Nicholas Dausi committed that Malawi would issue birth certificates to all refugee children born in the country.
Acting UNHCR representative to Malawi Rika Amano said from 2017, Malawi has registered all children born at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa and some have already been issued with birth certificates.
She said: “This is commendable, and more exciting is the news that refugee children who were born before July 2017 but are 16 years old and below, will be considered in the mass registration coming soon.”
Amano was speaking on Monday during the handover of registration equipment to National Registration Bureau (NRB) for Dowa registration office.
She appealed to government to find ways of registering the 231 refugee children who were born before 2017 and are above 17 years of age to move them from statelessness.
On his part, NRB director Victor Mallewa said the new equipment will speed up the process of registering and issuing birth certificates to newborns in the refugee camp and other health facilities in the district.
“We are very grateful to UNHCR for this donation. We have well-trained staff but the challenge was equipment, but now it means the process will be fast,” he said.
Mallewa said at first, processing and printing of the certificates was done at Capital Hill in Lilongwe, thereby consuming a lot of time but now the process has been decentralised.
Deputy Commissioner for Refugees Hudson Mankhwala commended NRB and UNHCR for working together to achieve government’s commitment and giving refugee children an identity.
UNHCR records indicate that as of December 2019, there were 45 108 refugees and asylum seekers in Malawi, 51 percent of whom are children.