More than 200 Sama Bajaus were provided with birth certificates today, in a pilot birth registration project spearheaded by the Zamboanga City local government and supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The distribution is the culmination of a pilot birth registration project for Sama Bajaus. Due to their itinerant way of life and because of generations of no registration among families, the Sama Bajaus face documentation issues, which in turn lead to their being at risk of statelessness.
“The Philippines has identified the Sama Bajaus as a population at risk of statelessness.
After a series of consultations with Sama Bajau communities, UNHCR, as a leading UN agency toward ending statelessness by 2024, arrived at a recommendation to conduct a birth registration to address their documentation issues,” said Shinji Kubo, UNHCR Representative to the Philippines.
“A birth certificate will help the community assert their rights. Ensuring birth registration also supports our global initiatives to prevent statelessness. This pilot birth registration demonstrates the commitment of the Government of the Philippines toward achieving the SDGs, ‘leaving no one behind.’”
A pilot registration project, which commenced in October this year, seeks to register 1,500 people in the community under the leadership of the Department of Justice. By end-2019, the pilot activity aims to provide birth certificates to a total of 412 Sama Bajaus. The project aims to reach more communities in need of birth registration documents in 2020.