Plea to ensure better protection of children on the move in Africa

Children on the move on the African continent and the issues they are facing need to get continuous attention at the highest policy levels in the region. Terre des Hommes Netherlands is advocating for this at the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). On the occasion of the 19th session of the ACERWC, taking place in Lesotho beginning of May 2017, together with Terre des Hommes Germany and Terre des Hommes International Federation (TDHIF), an advocacy statement was presented to the committee’s chairperson Professor Dr. Benyam Mezmur. One of the concrete asks is for the ACERWC to declare child migration as the official theme for the Day of the African Child in 2018.

Child trafficking

Destination Unknown campaign in Africa

The joint advocacy effort was carried out under TDHIF’s Destination Unknown campaign. Destination Unknown focuses on protection of children on the move. Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ programme on child trafficking and unsafe migration in East Africa is part of this campaign. In addition, Terre des Hommes Germany is responsible for interventions to protect migrating children in Southern Africa, particularly in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Migrating south in search for a better life

Even though the route to the Middle East and subsequently Europe is by far the best known and most used cross-border migration route in East Africa, another important migration route is leading south, with the hope of reaching South Africa. Children who migrate alone often leave their home due to neglect, abuse or violence. During their journey they face multiple protection risks. Violence and exploitation by smugglers and traffickers is one such danger. In particular girls are at risk of gender-based and sexual violence. Other risks for all children on the move include detention within migration control systems and even death.

Asks to the ACERWC

To ensure a better protection of children on the move during their journey in Africa, the Terre des Hommes joint advocacy statement consists of three concrete asks. Firstly, the request involves the theme of children on the move to be permanently on the ACERWC’s agenda, monitoring issues relating to child migration, introducing a day of general discussion on the topic and proclaiming ‘child  migration’ to be the official theme for the Day of the African Child in 2018.  Secondly, Terre des Hommes is asking the ACERWC to lobby for the introduction of a Children’s Protocol and Regional Standard Operational Procedures for all countries involved in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).  Lastly, the statement encourages the ACERWC to conduct a continent-wide research into the scope of child migration.

Observer status

The ACERWC is the body of the African Union in charge of child related issues on the African continent. Its mandate includes the power to issue authoritative interpretation of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, in order to clarify its meaning and scope.
Within TDHIF, Terre des Hommes Netherlands has an observer status to the Committee, on behalf of the Federation and all its member organisations.

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