Many children in Africa are not registered © Wolfgang Radtke (KNA)
In many African countries there are countless "invisible citizens", most of them minors, who have no access to basic rights because they are not registered. According to Sant'Egidio, they are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking.
Millions of people officially "do not exist" and are therefore exposed to great dangers: Recruitment as child soldiers, victims of slave labor, sexual abuse, organ trafficking and child labor. There is also the widespread problem of "child brides".
The fight against human trafficking begins with children
On the occasion of the International Day of Prayer and Reflection against Trafficking in Persons, which is celebrated this Wednesday with this year's theme "They are children, not slaves", the Community of Sant'Egidio wants to draw attention to the need to create in Africa ways for universal registration of civil status. There, it is estimated that more than 85 million children are not registered at birth each year with the civil registration office. Indeed, human trafficking can be combated by starting with children.
Since 2008, the Community of Sant'Egidio has been fighting this serious phenomenon through the BRAVO!-program (Birth Registration for All Versus Oblivion) in various African countries, starting in Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Malawi. In Burkina Faso alone, three and a half million people have been registered with the registry office in just a few years, thus depriving human traffickers of a breeding ground.
Registering to participate in society
An identity document seems to be of little importance. But it protects against illegality and enables participation in society by making education, work and legal freedom of travel possible. Along the way, an entire nation of "invisible citizens" has come into existence, who now exist and can claim all rights, something that was not previously possible due to the lack of a civil status record.