Plight of undocumented foreign children unpacked
Publish date: 12 August 2019
Issue Number: 836
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
It is not known how many undocumented children there are in SA because the country has no system to record the entry of migrating children. Without documentation, non-national children in SA are denied access to basic human rights. But with an inefficient asylum system in SA, the issues seem set to persist. ‘Many of the difficulties facing migrant and refugee children in SA centre around a lack of viable documentation options,’ said Sindi Moyo, the advocacy officer at the Scalabrini Centre in Cape Town. The non-profit, which advocates for the welfare of migrants, refugees and displaced people, released a report in July 2019 highlighting the plight of foreign children who migrate to SA from other African countries such as Zimbabwe, Burundi and the DRC. The Daily Maverick reports that the research surveyed children at the child and youth care centres in Gauteng, Limpopo and the Western Cape and found that overall 34% of the children held no documentation at all. According to the Refugee Act, a person qualifies for refugee status if they have a ‘well-founded fear of being persecuted by reason of his or her race, tribe, religion, nationality, political opinion’ and cannot be protected by their country of origin, are forced to leave their country of origin due to unrest or are the dependant of someone who holds refugee status. If then, a parent is undocumented, the child will also be undocumented.