Foreign children in South Africa: 3 problems and 3 solutions
Non-South African children in South Africa often face difficulties in accessing documentation. This is not in the interests of the child – nor the South African state itself. Children born in South Africa to one or more foreign parents risk not having a birth certificate issued to them – despite the obligation on the South African government to do so. Regulations around birth registration in South Africa require parents to show a valid visa or permit in order to register the birth of their child. Remaining on a valid permit – considering the difficulties faced in the asylum system and the strict requirements of the immigration system – is not as simple as it might seem. We recommend that the Regulations to the Births and Deaths Registration Act be amended to ensure that all children born within South African borders – regardless of their parents' nationality – are given due access to their right to name and nationality in the form of a birth certificate.
Children fleeing to South Africa due to war or conflict in their home countries can face difficulties in accessing the asylum system. We recommend that fully functional Refugee Reception Offices, with adequate resources and staff capacity, to ensure unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are able to make application to asylum in line with the relevant provisions of the Refugees Act.
Children migrating to South Africa for non-refugee reasons (migrant children) face great difficulties in accessing documentation, and are forced into an undocumented state. We recommend that a visa, with accessible and realistic requirements, is developed for migrant children in South Africa. This is in the interests of the child, and the South African state itself.