Officially, More Than 1.1 Billion People Do Not Exist, Says UN Report

| October 22 , 2017 , 12:54 IST

A recent UN report has revealed that more than 1.1 billion people, mostly in Africa and Asia, do not officially 'exist' as there is no documented proof of their identity, or even birth reports, giving rise to the question, if there are so many 'invisible' people, how far are our estimates of world population correct?

From the 'invisible' people, more than one-third are children whose births have not been officially registered, largely due to the absence of administrative areas in their locality. The lack of documentation deprives the people from health services, migration possibilities, and education opportunities.

The World Bank's programme 'Identification for Development' (ID4D) which conducted the study also revealed that the problem is more prevalent in geographical areas where locals face poverty, epidemics, discrimination and armed conflicts.

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Manager of the ID4D programme, Vyjayanti Desai said that although several factors contribute to the lack of documentation of these people, the distances between people and government services in developing areas is a major cause for their status as 'undocumented' people.

For example, for people living near the Peruvian Amazon, travelling to the nearest administrative service centre would require 5 days travel by boat.

Due to lack of education and awareness, many families are unaware of the importance of registering a birth in the family, now knowing that a lack of registration may deny them basic rights and benefits and even increase their chances of forced labour or marriage at a young age. Even if the parents are aware of the need to officially document a birth, the cost factor arises, of making the journey and completing documentation.

Another obstacle is the fear of discrimination in the minds of the parents, revealed Peru's former development minister Carolina Trivelli.

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"People fear to be identified from one ethnic group or from one nationality," said Trivelli.

"The government has sometimes -- sadly -- preferences for some groups rather than another," she added.

In several countries, the birth of children conceived out of wedlock or as a result of rape is also concealed, adding difficulties for the children as they grew up.

Children that have no official documentation stand the risk of being barred from schools, falling victim to human trafficking, and being forced into labour (boys) or early marriage and procreation (girls).