Migration as they say is a global phenomenon which is increasingly becoming complex in nature, unfortunately in this complex human mobility there are those that are exploited such as children being trafficked for labor of sexual exploitation or separated from parents or legal guardians for various reasons.
It is for this reasons that the international Organisation for Migration (IOM) – The UN Migration Agency in partnership with the government of Botswana and UNICEF convened a two day Social Worker’s workshop on Protection of Unaccompanied and Separated Migrant children in Gaborone recently.
Speaking during the workshop, the Head of IOM in Gaborone, Sikhulile Dlamini challenged stakeholders to collectively put measures in place to ensure that vulnerable migrant children are accordingly identified, referred and assisted. She revealed that an estimated 250 million people are on the move around the world, including 28.2 million young migrants between the age of 15 and 24.
“In the spirit of leaving no one behind we are gathered today to deliberate and come up with frameworks and tools that will enhance the protection of a sub-population i.e. unaccompanied and separated children to ensure that their migration is safe and legal. These are children who often become vulnerable during migration or upon arrival or even during their stay in a country where they do not have strong family ties,” said Dlamini. Adding that: “Migration has become not only the mega-trend of our time but also a contentious segment of the political discourse in countries of origin, transit and destination”.
Dlamini stated that children often encounters suffering during the migration process and or after arrival in countries of destination and as IOM they engage on migration related matters with stakeholders and there has been a consistent message that social workers need a platform to reach consensus on case management system that will enhance protection of children.
According to Dlamini there are multiple push and pull factors such as conflict , economic and social disparities, inequalities in labour market opportunities, disasters and environmental degradation . She says so far global estimates indicate that migratory flow will most likely be on the rise for decades to come.
“The rise in the number of unemployed youth in the world which reached 71 million in 2016 also indicates that the search of employment opportunities will continue to be an important driver of youth migration in the future,” she said.
She explained that through the Sustainable goals particularly Goal 10.7 states are called upon to facilitate safe, legal and responsible migration.
For his part, The Deputy Manager; Trafficking in Persons at the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security, Madoda Nasha said the negative impact of children is a real and said currently in Botswana most are guilty of domestic servitude which they do unaware and aware.
“more often well off relatives get children from their parents (relatives) who live in rural with presence that they are going to get them better education in the city only for the child to be turned into a maid who cooks and cleans for the family,” said Nasha
Nasha said such conduct amounts to human trafficking and the Anti-Human trafficking Act of Botswana clearly speaks against such.
Nasha implored social workers to sensetise themselves especially with legal instruments which are set to look out for the rights of the child in the case of protection of migrant children, he said the Anti- Trafficking act and the Children’s act covers this adequately.