1 Dec 2005

PNG issues birth certificates to Papuan refugee children

4:52 pm on 1 December 2005

The UNHCR says the rights of more than 1,700 refugee children from Indonesia's Papua Province are now better protected thanks to the issue of PNG birth certificates to them.

The PNG government, UN agencies and the local Catholic Diocese worked together to issue the certificates to refugee children born in PNG and living in 17 remote settlements along the Indonesian border.

An estimated 5,000 Papuan refugees live in the region.

The UNHCR representative in PNG, Johann Siffointe, says the exercise showed the PNG government's commitment to the Refugee Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The issue of the birth certificates was started two weeks ago and completed this week.

Mr Siffointe says the registration of births was the first legal acknowledgement of a child's existence and therefore a crucial first step in realising important rights and needs.

He birth certificates helped protect children from labour exploitation, forced marriage for girls and under-age military service.