In Pakistan, 3 out of 4 newborns last year were not registered with the government. It’s worse in Yemen, where 4 out of 5 were not registered. And in Somalia, 97% of babies born last year don’t officially exist.
The problem is extensive and destructive, according to a report released on Tuesday by the U.N. Children’s Fund. Some 230 million children under the age of 5 — 1 in 3 children around the world — were not registered at birth and are, as a result, cut adrift from the government programs, like education and health care, intended to support them.
“All children are born with enormous potential,” UNICEF deputy executive director Geeta Rao Gupta said in a statement. “But if societies fail to count them, and don’t even recognize that they are there, they are more vulnerable to neglect and abuse. Inevitably, their potential will be severely diminished.”
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