A new report by the French National Assembly, published in September 2020, assesses the situation of children without identity in the world. Through statistics, the report describes the causes of this phenomenon and its negative consequences on the fundamental rights of children. It also presents the situation in France, especially in French Guiana and Mayotte.
According to the report, the technical and human resources dedicated to civil registry services in French Guiana are insufficient, unsuitable, and often overwhelmed due to strong demographic growth, migratory pressure and the local context. This generates serious inequalities in accessing civil registration. The rivers that define political borders represent important communication channels for the local inhabitants, and the population frequently moves between riverbanks. In Mayotte, many foreign minors without identity are present on the island, including unaccompanied minors (4,446 in 2016 according to the Observatory of Isolated Minors). In metropolitan France, the report mentions the situation of Romani children, and of children born in Syria or Iraq to French national ‘foreign fighters’. For asylum seekers, a birth certificate can only be issued at the end of the procedure, if the asylum application is accepted by OFPRA.
The rapporteurs then make a series of recommendations, including:
- Strengthen the technical and human resources dedicated to civil registry services in French Guiana and Mayotte;
- Develop regular cooperation in civil registration matters with neighbouring countries and bilateral cooperation to obtain civil documentation;
- Allocate a financial contribution to various projects dedicated to birth registration;
- Address birth registration and the issue of children without identity in humanitarian programming;
- Take this issue into account in European institutions and before the United Nations;
- Systematically include the situation of birth registration and the existence of a reliable civil registration service in France's interventions and recommendations under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
Source: Assemblée Nationale (2020), Rapport d'information sur les enfants sans identité, available at: http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/dyn/15/rapports/cion_afetr/l15b3349_rapport-information.pdf (FR)
Photo: Enfants syriens de dos dans un camp de réfugiés - cloverphoto / iStock / ©