By Ingrid Palmary
This report outlines the situation facing children who migrate across international borders to South Africa. The report begins by outlining the policy framework that should guide migrant children’s access to rights in South Africa. This section points to a well developed legal and policy framework for securing the rights of migrant children regardless of their documentation. The second section of the report reviews existing studies on child migration with a view to identifying children’s access to their rights as well as pointing to gaps in information. The 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. Migrant children’s access to basic health and education is extremely compromised and there is evidence of widespread violence and abuse against them – very often by the state authorities whose duty it is to protect them. Furthermore, there is an indication from the research that children who live outside of the major urban centres are particularly vulnerable.
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