3,500 children in Mali will receive free birth certificates following a sustained project run by Plan International. The initiative is targeting mainly Internally Displaced People (IDP) and returning refugees in 30 communities and districts affected by the conflict in the Timbuktu region of northern Mali.
Oumou, 14, is one of them. She is a bright 8th grade student from Timbuktu, however, last year she was asked to leave school in the second term when the school authorities asked her to provide her birth certificate before sitting an exam. Without a birth certificate, children in Mali do not have a legal identity and are vulnerable to trafficking, child labour and underage marriage as they do not legally exist and have no proof of their age.