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Migrant children in South Africa
What is the legal and policy framework governing the provision of rights to migrant children in South Africa? What institutional capacity exists for responding to the needs of children who are affected by migration? What level of access to services do child migrants enjoy and what are the barriers to effective access? These questions frame this paper which gives an overview of the situation of children affected by migration into South Africa. It focuses on cross-border migrants who migrate alone, with adult caregivers or who remain behind when their caregivers migrate.
The report begins by outlining the policy framework that should guide migrant children’s access to rights in South Africa. It continues by reviewing existing studies on child migration with a view to identifying children’s access to their rights as well as pointing to gaps in information. Research on child migrants indicates very poor implementation of the legal and policy framework and significant abuses of migrant children’s rights. In particular, children are often left behind when caregivers migrate and face a range of vulnerabilities associated with this. In addition, children are migrants in their own right and the existing research indicates that, where children migrate alone, they are particularly vulnerable to exploitative working conditions, violence and denial of basic rights.
There is however a lack of capacity for intervention with child migrants in South Africa. Many of the migrant rights organisations that exist do not specifically address the rights of children and many children’s organisations lack the knowledge on migrant children’s rights to intervene effectively. Access to rights is almost entirely facilitated by NGOs in South Africa with migrant children having very limited direct access to government departments and services.
The report shows that the policy and legal framework in South Africa is supportive of children’s access to basic rights regardless of their documentation status. Nevertheless, in the implementation of these rights there is frequently a denial of services or confusion about the rights of different categories of migrants. It offers the following recommendations:
Further research is needed into the following areas:
For policy development
For organisational capacity building
For migrant communities
Authors: I. Palmary
Information Provided by Carol Lombard, Department of Social Development Population Website
Submitted by carol on 28 September 2009 - 11:58am. categories [ ]