Liberia to Issue Birth Certificates

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) - Liberia's government says it will require all children to get birth certificates, a document most of them lack.

The initiative launched Friday hopes to fill in blanks left by a 14-year civil war and by previous decades of poverty and illiteracy. The campaign also aims to register everyone under the age of 18 in the West African country.

A Liberian government report says fewer than 4 percent of children under the age of 5 have birth certificates or registration.

National birth registration coordinator Esther Thomas says parents will be fined for not registering their children. Vice President Joseph Boakai praised the measure Friday. Like many of Liberia's 3.5 million people, he said he does not know when his birthday is because his parents were illiterate.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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