Migrant children face high risk of statelessness in SA - report

According to the report, which included more than 300 foreign national children, 40% of children have no evidence of their nationality.

FILE: Refugees queue at the Customs House building in Cape Town. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN

CAPE TOWN – Close to 40% of foreign children entering South Africa are at risk of statelessness and have no documents at all.

This is according to a report published by the Scalabrini Centre and the International Organisation for Migration on foreign children migrating to South Africa. They surveyed every known case at children's homes in the Western Cape, Limpopo and Gauteng over the past few years.

Statelessness means they are not considered as nationals by any state under that country's law.

Scalabrini’s Lotte Manicom said the children faced a high risk of statelessness. At least 70% of children had spent at least five years in South Africa and came from 15 different African countries including Zimbabwe, the DRC and Burundi.

She said half of them were between the ages of 11 and 18.

The organisation said there were a few options available to get the necessary documentation, which resulted in an uncertain future for the children. It said when the undocumented children turn 18, they were at risk of detention and deportation.

“The reason why we wanted to do this report, we wanted to find out more about their situation. Because accessing documentation in South Africa is extremely difficult and without a document it’s difficult to access services and plan your future as a young person.”

She said recommendations include the creation of documentation options in South Africa and the improvement of family tracing and reunification processes.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)