The event which was attended by local leaders, non-governmental organisations, children and other community members, was aimed at achieving a number of objectives including sensitising these key stakeholders on human trafficking.
Ndebele highlighted the scale of human trafficking saying “40.3 million people are trafficked globally, and 25% of those are children and human trafficking is a very lucrative industry it makes around R150-billion.” She added that “it is important that we pull all of our resources together to ensure that we deal with this challenge.”
Ndebele also called on businesses in the region, particularly in the tourism industry to stop employing children and to help with identifying vulnerable children. “We also need to increase our advocacy and make sure that we speak with one voice in this matter. I think is important as a region to strengthen our child protection systems and ensure that our policies speak together so that our children are protected,” she said.
Her call for action was echoed by Eunice Maposse, a high school pupil from the area, who said poverty has forced children from other parts of the country to come to the border town seeking a better future. “They lost their right to study, to live with their families, to have a home, to be a child, to keep their health. It’s sad because we have to see these children every day and have to realise every day that this isn’t life they should have,” said Maposse.
According to the United Nations both internal and international migration has increased in recent years, with global figures reaching 258 million in 2017, up from 248 million in 2015. In east and southern Africa there are over 24 million migrants including refugees and displaced persons. In reality, the figures could be higher as they do not include irregular migrants.
This spike in migration has made more children vulnerable, as some of them are unaccompanied migrants. They face several risks including physical and sexual abuse, human trafficking, child labour, and psychosocial trauma. They also have limited access to basic necessities such as food, shelter, health and education services.
In southern Africa there continues to be notable movement of children between Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Unaccompanied children or children separated from their parents or guardian from the countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo are also making their way to the south, with South Africa being the favourite destination.
SCSA through several efforts like its Local to Global initiative and the Children on the Move Project, seeks to ensure that children’s rights are respected and protected regardless of a child’s nationality.
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