By Ken Neba, Yaounde, Cameroon – Thursday November 21, 2019.
The situation of the polygamous Djibrine family in Cameroon’s Middle Belt town of Ngaoundere is not unique. Tens of thousands of elementary school pupils miss their final examinations each and the chance to get into secondary school simply for want of birth certificates!
All 17 of them, from a polygamous father with four wives who died in 2016 have no birth certificates, National Telegraph has confirmed. The story at firsthand sounds like a fairy tale, but it is reality! This is the situation of the Djibrine family in Ngaoundere, headquarters of Cameroon’s Middle Belt Adamawa Region.
As a result, none of the children aged 18 years can acquire the National Identity Card, a document necessary for all official transactions in the Central African country. More so, none of the children of school-going age has been able to register for elementary school certificate examination and the entrance examination into secondary school.
In their desperation, the younger Djibrine children are only awaiting the magnanimity of someone to help them acquire birth certificates. For now, local authorities are demanding 6,000 FCFA per child to issue late-age birth certificates, which Djibrine’s poor four widows cannot afford.
As the world on November 20, 2019 celebrated 30 years of the coming into effect of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC, similar cases to the Djibrine family abound in Cameroon.
Adamawa Region today counts between 40,000 to 50,000 people without birth certificates! Officially, these people do not exist as they are missing from the country’s vital statistics necessary for development planning. Consequently, all these people and children are stateless, without any nationality though born Cameroonian.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, only 66 percent of births were registered in Cameroon in 2014. With rural areas recording a rate of only 48 percent and urban areas 81 percent.
Tens of thousands of children in the Far North, North, Adamawa and East Regions and to a lesser extent, the rest of the country miss their final primary school leaving examinations and opportunities to get to secondary school simply for want of birth certificates.