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World Vision calls on Congress to make unseen children count

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Johnny Cruz

National Director
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WASHINGTON — (April 30, 2014) – According to UNICEF, one in three children – 230 million under the age of five – around the world does not have a birth certificate, effectively cutting them off from accessing life-saving health care and other critical services; as well as, making them vulnerable to exploitation.

Countries cannot protect their children, if they do not know they exist. To encourage countries to improve birth registration systems, World Vision urges the U.S. House of Representatives to enact the “Girls Count Act." The legislation would not require additional spending, but would require diligence in U.S. foreign assistance to ensure all children, especially vulnerable children, are counted.

“Birth registration is a simple, yet effective solution for decreasing the vulnerability of children and increasing the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance. The more governments that implement a streamlined birth registration system, the better they will be able to provide for their own citizens,” said Jesse Eaves, Senior Policy Advisor for Child Protection at World Vision.  “The more governments provide for and support their citizens, the less U.S. taxpayer money will be needed to support governments with weak inefficient, or non-existent safety nets for children.”

A new report being released Wednesday by World Vision finds many children are dying uncounted for and invisible to the health services that could save their lives, because countries and world leaders are failing to properly track vital data about children and their health. The report claims that the real number of unregistered children is likely to be much higher than the 230 million reported by UNICEF.

“Once a country invests in effective birth registration for its people, it will have the citizen data it needs to develop, fund and implement health strategies that reach all children protecting them from not only disease, but also from trafficking, child labor and more,” said Eaves. “When children are less vulnerable, it is easier to keep them healthy and educated; thus contributing to the long-term economic development of a nation.”

About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/press or on Twitter @WorldVisionNews.