For the 103rd World Refugee Day message, Pope Francis decided to focus on child migrants, the vulnerable and refugees.
In light of the Archdiocesan for Migrants and Refugee Day and the Pope’s message, various organisations the Department of Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees, Jesuit Refugee Service, Bienvenu Shelter and Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa and the community conducted a workshop on child protection at the Cathedral on 15 June.
Bienvenu Shelter director, Sr Kadia Prigol mscs, in her welcoming remarks said: “I hope we will work together to protect children who are vulnerable and depend on us for them to live their lives with dignity.”
Nicole Breen from the Joburg Child Welfare said rights that are relevant to a child include children who are non-nationals. These are – equality, dignity, name and nationality, access to food, shelter and healthcare, not to be abused, neglected, degraded and having the best interest of the child at heart.
“Statelessness is when a person does not have a claim to any nationality,” said Lusungu Kanyama-Phiri from Lawyers for Human Rights. Registration of birth is one way of avoiding statelessness.
She said all states require proof of where the child was born and to whom. Some of the impacts of statelessness include challenges in enrolling into schools, access to medical care and public services.
Ace Maunatlala, Pastoral Care’s volunteer and also an employee at the Department of Home Affairs said he was impressed that the workshop was mostly attended by women, but wished to encourage them to involve their partners/spouses.
He said it is important to document the birth of a child. “People are given 30 days to register the birth of a child. Failure to do so, on day 31, your child could be registered for a late registration of birth.”
If both parents are non-nationals, they should have their documents in order, otherwise the Department of Home Affairs will not issue a record to prove birth of child in the country.
Sr Maria de Lurdes mscs gave a vote of thanks to all the organisations and participants for honouring the invitation and making the workshop a success. Sr Therese Musao mscs closed the workshop with a prayer.
If you feel that a right of a child you know is being violated, people can contact 011 298 9500.