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Drawing of children

Children crossing borders. Report on unaccompanied minors who have travelled to South Africa

The aim of this study is to gain an insight into the migration experiences of children who cross international borders unaccompanied, and in particular to identify the migration routes, who children migrate with, their reasons for migration, how these children access basic necessities such as food, money, shelter, healthcare and safety and their experiences of arrest, deportation and violence. The report is based on a survey of 130 children in three main sites: Johannesburg, the border with Zimbabwe (predominantly in Musina) and the border with Mozambique (predominantly in Malelane and Komatipoort). The findings of the research show that there is a gendered pattern of migration to South Africa, with boys more likely to migrate alone than girls. In addition, children who migrate alone do so for a combination of different reasons, such as the HIV epidemic, poverty and the lack of educational opportunities in their country of origin. Very few children in this study have ever had contact with state social workers; large numbers of unaccompanied children do not attend school and many of the surveyed children work, regardless of their age. Despite the many hardships they faced, children were surprisingly optimistic about their futures. They felt that South Africa afforded them opportunities which their countries of origin did not. A large number of children felt that their lives would be better than their parents' lives, and this was largely attributed to them being in South Africa.

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