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Thousands of displaced children in Mali have no legal identity

Since 2012, disruption in Mali has killed thousands who’ve gotten caught in clashes between security forces and jihadist fighters. According to the UN, the war has displaced nearly 500,000 people including children.

A new report by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) says 148,600 displaced children in Mali do not have a legal identity.

Lack of official documentation means children are at risk of marginalisation and potential human rights violations.

In a press release, the NRC country director Mr. Maclean Natugasha said, ‘ensuring the children hardest hit by the conflict can obtain their birth certificate is essential to enable them to overcome the violence, displacement, and hunger they have faced since the conflict started.’

Mali has been facing a humanitarian crisis for a decade. Unstable political tension and internal war has led to five successful coups since its independence in 1960.

In 2018, thousands fled due to intercommunal violence that left many children orphans and separated from their families.

Despite the country being one of Africa’s biggest gold producers, more than half of the population live below the poverty line.

Poverty has forced an estimation of 40,000 children to work in these gold mines to earn a living for their family. These child labourers are unable to attend school and haven been deprived of their basic rights.

These children are classed as undocumented refugees and are forced to offer cheap labour to mining companies and private entities for profit gain.

According to the NRC report, many lack birth certificates as a result of complex legal processes, few and limited functioning civil status services in some areas, and the higher cost of living affecting more than half of the population.

The Al-Qaeda group, some Islamic State organisations, and traffickers have caused mayhem in the country through abductions.

Children and women have been forced into terror practices. According to the UN, the worst hit parts of the country are controlled by jihadists and locals working in favour of the militia group.

The NRC findings indicate that children who lack legal identifications are at risk of being denied right to formal employment and voting in the near future.

Currently, children constitute approximately 64% of the total internally displaced persons. With this high number, the future generation is at risk not only economically but socially.

It goes without saying that delaying and denying this fundamental right to children will automatically affect not only their citizenship but also participation in public affairs, including representation of public offices and voting.


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