UNICEF: More than 600,000 migrant, displaced children live in SA

This was revealed during a Social Development Department panel discussion on unaccompanied and separated migrant children on Monday.

FILE: Officials said child migration in the region was largely driven by the poor economic outlook in neighbouring countries. Picture: iStock.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story stated that more than six million migrant or displaced children currently live in South Africa. This is incorrect. In fact, 600,000 migrant or displaced children currently live in South Africa. We apologise for the error.

CAPE TOWN - More than 600,000 migrant or displaced children currently live in South Africa.

This was revealed during a Department of Social Development panel discussion on unaccompanied and separated migrant children on Monday.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said globally, 33 million children were forcibly displaced by the end of 2019.

Panelists have reiterated that to effectively respond to the plight of these children, concerted efforts were needed to establish better collaboration between government departments, local NGOs and international organisations.

UNICEF’s Helen Nyangoya said one in four immigrants in South Africa was a child: “South Africa is the major destination for children on the move. The high numbers of children in South Africa also include children from eastern and southern Africa. Children migrating within the Southern Africa region like Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi are also children from the horn of Africa.”

Nyangoya also noted that: “Violence, war, poverty and effects of climate change are among the main reasons that millions of children lose their homes around the world every year. In South Africa alone, there are currently more 600,000 migrant or displaced children. Many of them are subjected to abuse, exploitation and violence during their journeys from their home countries to an assumed safer place. The most vulnerable among these children are those unaccompanied or separated from their families. We must leave no stone unturned for these children to have access to rights.”

The Department of Social Development's Lillian Thobejane stressed that South Africa's legislation extended to all children, including migrant children.

“DSD has ensured that service delivery by initiating and developing policies to clarify the provision of care and protection to specifically migrant children.”

Officials said child migration in the region was largely driven by the poor economic outlook in neighbouring countries.

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