JOHNSON’S® Baby Right Start Initiative seeks to certify birth of 91 million unregistered babies in MEA
Today, 230 million babies around the world, and 91 million babies in the region alone do not have birth certificates, resulting in a lack of basic human rights, needs and protection. As well as causing immediate issues, this lack of identity can also lead to displacement, statelessness, and the inability to prove that a child is a minor in the eyes of the law.
The Right Start Initiative was launched in Ethiopia and Lebanon this month, where governments are actively trying to register as many affected babies as possible.
Alongside international humanitarian organization, Save the Children, JOHNSON’S® Baby is determined to give these babies the right start by making invisible children visible, and changing the course of their lives. The three-year program focuses on building capacity among staff in key governmental institutions through a selection of trainings and workshops, while driving birth registrations in both countries.
“At JOHNSON’S® Baby we care about the development of babies and are determined to help them thrive. Through the Right Start initiative, we aim to raise awareness about this overlooked issue, and ensure more babies receive the care and protection they deserve from the start,” said Makis Kosmatos, Area Managing Director, Africa, Middle East and Turkey, Johnson & Johnson.
“We are honored to work with Save the Children, which has worked tirelessly in making a difference to the lives of babies across the region.”
Establishing registration programs in Lebanon
In Lebanon, where many unregistered babies come from Syrian refugee families, birth registration programs cease to exist in a number of major informal refugee settlements. JOHNSON’S® Baby and Save the Children will start establishing a program that provides support to families needing birth registration, allowing babies to receive a birth certificate and placing a world of possibilities at their feet.
Some 83 percent of the children in refugee settlements in Lebanon are currently not registered with the Foreigners’ Registry. With the right start, babies will be able to look forward to a brighter future, with more prospects and protection. As well as driving awareness, The Right Start Initiative provides counseling support to affected families through tailored case management activities that accompany them throughout the birth registration process.
Mobilizing communities in Ethiopia
The situation differs in Ethiopia, where a registration process exists, but accessibility remains largely impossible for the 82 percent of families that live in extremely remote areas. With JOHNSON’S® Baby’s support, Save the Children will also be able to expand registration programs into the Guraghe zone to target more affected families. Ethiopia currently houses the second largest number of refugees worldwide, with approximately 58 percent of them being children.
The government has recently adopted a policy for the registration of Ethiopian children, but birth registrations remain low, with just five percent of the child population registered at birth. Mobilizing families is crucial to their safety, with unregistered children being at risk of child marriage, child labor, trafficking or detention as an adult unless they have proof of age and identity.
“Birth registration is a right of all children under the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child. We are grateful that JOHNSON’S® Baby shares our concern about the long-term negative consequences faced by children lacking a legal identity,” said Allison Zelkowitz, Lebanon Country Office Director, Save the Children.
“We are proud to partner with JOHNSON’S® Baby on The Right Start Initiative, to provide essential assistance and training, and other program support so that more parents register their babies at birth in both Ethiopia and Lebanon,” she added.
To help raise awareness about the cause and encourage action, October 8th has been registered as the official ‘International Birth Registration Day.
Donating $1 million worth of baby care products
In addition to registration efforts, JOHNSON’S® Baby has also pledged to donate $1 million worth of baby care products to families in need across the MENA region. Starting from the first week of October, for every JOHNSON’S® Baby product purchased, another is donated to a family being served by Save the Children.
For more information on The Right Start Initiative, please visit: https://www.johnsonsbabyarabia.com/en/right-start