Child Migration a Difficult Issue

February 26, 2010 /

Though Uganda and Liberia have difficulty in stopping outright crimes in child trafficking, the problems of Haiti and Zimbabwe are more complex.

Uganda and Liberia have been named by the international community as being two countries with extensive difficulty in quelling child trafficking.

Uganda has the highest rates of child trafficking in Africa, a recent report has stated. And, in a study of Liberian cases handled by UNICEF, the UN children’s agency reported that 75% involved issues of child trafficking. These children are recruited as sex slaves, domestic help, or are used by traffickers to claim social services for “family benefits.” They may be trafficking domestically, regionally within the African continent, or internationally. Transnational crime networks constitute a multi-billion dollar industry in drugs, prostitution, humans, arms, and other goods. They also tend to spill into one another.

Unfortunately, the difficulties of illicit migration are also often clouded with grey areas or prove difficult to remedy. Such problems were seen in the upsurge in child trafficking in Haiti since the January earthquake as well as the 3 000 to 15 000 Zimbabwean children that travel to South Africa and back to attend school or see a doctor—vital social services they cannot access in their home country, thanks to poverty. Given the socioeconomic causes for this daily migration, it is unlikely to change without stricter border controls of the improvement of livelihoods in Zimbabwe. So, protecting children by empowering families to earn more money through skills or vocational training as well as enlisting the help of charities and non-governmental organizations to construct schools ad medical clinics where there is a vacuum in public services may be sure-fire ways to help.

Yet, the international nature of the problem requires a global solution too. Given the problems encountered in Haiti and unaccompanied child migrants in southern Africa, international actors are further urging governments to adopt the Hague conventions on child protection, specifically the Hague Convention of 1980 on International Child Abduction, Hague Convention of 1993 on Inter-country Adoption, Hague Convention of 1996 on the Protection of Children, and Hague Convention of 2007 on the International Recovery of Child Support. When it comes to cross border movement, it is essential that children be where they should be—namely, the place that is in their own best interests, preferably with their families. It is important to ensure that all migration is legal and that children not accompanied by parents have adequate protection.



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