Plan in motion to assist migrating children - Lindiwe Zulu
Pretoria - The government is dealing with the growing number of children in migration at the country’s borders.
In this regard, government has launched a campaign to look into the exploitation, abuse and neglect of these children.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said this was a humanitarian issue rather than a matter of border control because children migrated for a variety of reasons.
“As a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international treaties that place obligation on the State to protect and promote the rights of children, we have an obligation to ensure that all children on the move are treated with dignity and respect, and any instances of abuse and exploitation must be reported and be investigated,” said Zulu.
She said they had signed a cross-border collaboration with Lesotho, Mozambique, eSwatini and Zimbabwe.
The agreement includes developing and implementing common standard operation procedures to ensure the coordination of services, and to ensure the right to protection, safety and dignified repatriation for unaccompanied and separated children.
Zulu said the department was an affiliate of the International Social Services, which dealt with issues of migration and serves as a link between South Africa and the rest of the world in terms of inter-country social services.
“These include family tracing and family assessment procedures which, along with the views of the children, are used in determining whether it is in the children’s best interest to be provided with assistance for voluntary repatriation and be reintegrated in their country of origin.”
A survey conducted by Scalabrini, which works in protecting the rights of refugees, found that one of main reasons unaccompanied and separated children came to the country was to flee conflict in their home countries, followed by the death of a primary caregiver.
Other factors that contributed to child migration included poverty, hunger, war and protracted conflict situations, the survey found.
“We owe it to the children, irrespective of nationality, to ensure they built a society that enabled each child to reach their full potential,” said Zulu.