The purpose of this three-day workshop was to assess the existing evidence-base and good practices related to civil registration and identity management in humanitarian contexts, in view of improving coordination, as well as better providing for and protecting the rights of women and children on the move. It was organized by the UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa in Dakar and jointly convened with the Centre of Excellence for CRVS Systems and the UNHCR West Africa Regional Office.
Why humanitarian settings?
In almost all emergency situations, such as in armed conflicts, natural disasters, human-made hazards and mass population displacements, civil registration systems often become dysfunctional, poorly operational and – in extreme cases – entirely collapsed. Birth and death certificates are often lost and entire archives may be destroyed during or in the aftermath of the crisis. In such situations, the administrative system fails to record and register vital events leading to a backlog of unregistered women and children, and the absence of reliable cause of death information.
The core of humanitarian response often focuses on addressing basic human needs, such as safety, health and education. Provision of civil registration services usually remains under-resourced and under-prioritized in situations of fragility, with significant long and short-term consequences. For example, children born abroad from refugee or migrant parents, whose parentage is neither established by a birth certificate nor a ruling, are at higher risk of statelessness. Women and children are especially vulnerable in situations of conflict and emergency, and it is critical to register and count them so that they can be protected and provided for.
This workshop highlighted emerging good practices, lessons learned and recommendations from country examples and experts on civil registration and identity management in fragile contexts. Countries and development partners represented at the workshop included Ethiopia, Mali, Senegal, South Sudan, Guinea, Cameroon, DRC, Uganda and Sierra Leone, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, African Development Bank, UN Population Fund, WHO, Plan International and the International Rescue Committee (IRC).