South Africa’s stateless children: ‘I thought I would be shot’

Published: 22/Jan/2020
Source: Al Jazeera

Children, often undocumented and unaccompanied, risk the dangerous crossing into South Africa in hope of a better life.

by Jamaine Krige & Yeshiel Panchia

According to the World Bank, in 2017 there were approximately four million migrants in South Africa. Of those, 309,000 were refugees or asylum seekers.

Save the Children estimates that at least 30 percent of the refugees and migrants who enter South Africa are children. Many of them are unaccompanied and undocumented, the highest proportion globally.

According to a 2019 study by the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, an advocacy group for refugees and migrants, seven out of every 10 foreign children in state care in South Africa are undocumented – they have no birth certificate, identification papers or passport. Many have never had their births registered.

These children are at risk of becoming stateless, meaning no country acknowledges them as citizens.

On a day-to-day basis, they have difficulty going to school and accessing healthcare and public services.

In the first of a four-part series exploring the lives of undocumented child migrants and refugees in South Africa, Obert Makaza, 20, shares his story.

Read further:

Themes: Statelessness
Regions: South Africa
Year: 2020