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Japan supports Digital Birth Registration of Populations in BARMM

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Japan’s Ambassador to the Philippines, ENDO Kazuya signed and exchanged notes for “The Project for Promoting Digital Birth Registration of Populations at Risk of Statelessness in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)” with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Philippines Head of National Office Maria Ermina Valdeavilla-Gallardo on June 11, 2024.

Also in attendance were BARMM Minister of Social Services and Development (MSSD) Raissa Herradura Jajurie, Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) Senior Undersecretary Isidro Purisima, UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo González, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Philippines Representative Oyun Dendevnorov, and officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

While the national birth registration rate in the Philippines is 96.6 percent, BARMM’s rate remains the lowest at 77 percent. UNHCR has been working to support the Bangsamoro Government, through the MSSD, in the expansion of birth registration coverage for marginalized groups, including the itinerant seafaring Sama Bajaus, unregistered children displaced by armed conflict, and decommissioned combatants and their families in BARMM.

The Government of Japan will contribute ¥858,000,000 (approximately US$5.5 million) to significantly enhance this project and expand coverage to decommissioned combatants and their families, which is in line with the efforts to contribute to the normalization process under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. Within a 30-month program period, this project will work on following:

  1. Conduct capacity building for local government/Local Civil Registrars
  2. Provide IT equipment for digitization of the process and the equipment for mobile birth registration caravans
  3. Conduct birth registration of 30,000 individuals
  4. Conduct awareness-raising activities in target communities
  5. Development assistance for communities in the form of a quick impact project

By establishing the necessary mechanisms and systems, the project will contribute to the overall improvement of birth registration in the region by reaching 92 percent of the estimated one million unregistered individuals, with 130,000 benefitting in the next 30 months and 800,000 more indirectly benefiting in the next 10 years.

In his speech, Ambassador Endo expressed hope that the continued collaboration between the UNHCR and Japan in BARMM through the project would cultivate “an environment conducive for prosperity and sound growth” where its residents “can continue to enjoy the dividends of peace.” He also extended his gratitude to the UNHCR for proposing the project, describing it as an embodiment of the Humanitarian-Development-Peace (HDP) Nexus concept upheld by both the UNHCR and Japan.

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