NIAWG Advocacy Statement on COVID-19 and vulnerable children
The National Interagency Working (NIAWG) group on Unaccompanied, Separated and Migrant Children in South Africa would like to commend the Government of South Africa for its stance towards curbing and reducing the spread of COVID-19. The NIAWG would like to take this opportunity to emphasise that in its response the Government of South Africa should ensure that all children regardless of their country of origin or immigration status are protected and included in light of the unique impact of the declaration of a State of Disaster on vulnerable children. Such a response would be in line with the South African Constitution, as well as the four main principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which are non-discrimination; the best interests of the child; survival and development of the child; and child participation.
Every day vulnerable unaccompanied, separated and migrant children – including citizen,
migrant, refugee, asylum seeker and stateless children (“USMCs”) face unspeakable threats to their safety and well-being even in the absence of a pandemic. For many of these girls and boys, access to basic health care and facilities is extremely limited, while cramped living conditions make social distancing unfeasible. In light of the COVID-19 crisis these children are at heightened risk of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence amidst intensifying containment measures.
The NIAWG calls on all concerned stakeholders and authorities to make every effort to prevent any form of harm and discrimination during the State of Disaster. The NIAWG highly commends the measures that government took through the Department of Home Affairs in ensuring that anyone whose permit expires prior to the end of lockdown will not be penalised as long as they present themselves to an RRO within 30 days of the lockdown ending. Including the closure of the RROs to prevent putting refugees and asylum seekers at risk of close confines, for protracted periods and the known efforts to develop remote processing of asylum and refugee documentation.
It is however, worth to further note that where USMCs are undocumented their vulnerability is increased and their access to basic human rights and services are particularly limited. USMCs in this category are most vulnerable to harm and infection with COVID-19. These children are usually reluctant to seek medical and other assistance due to their lack of documentation for fear of possible arrest, detention and even deportation. Therefore, the inclusion of all USMCs in the Government’s response to COVID-19 is imperative, because if they are not protected and included, the Government’s efforts to flatten the curve is compromised. This principle should be communicated to all South Africans, including government employees, to avoid any discriminatory sentiments that may undermine the national efforts to fight against the pandemic.
It is paramount that all response measures are implemented with the best interest of the child in mind.
In this period of massive containment and limited movement USMCs, like the majority of children in South Africa, are exposed to heightened risk of violence in the home, being forced to be in close contact with perpetrators of the violence or abuse. It is key that the work of organisations that work to ensure adequate protection of these children are allowed the necessary permission to keep in contact with at risk children.
Finally, the NIAWG notes that it is undeniable that the spread of COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the income earning capacity of many worldwide, the same impact does not exempt USMCs especially those who are in child headed households. It is therefore imperative that USMCs are included in economic safety net measures that may be introduced to mitigate the effect of loss of income caused by the effects of COVID-19. Leaving this category of our society out of our national response safety nets may necessitate negative coping strategies among these vulnerable members of our societies. Hence, NIAWG emphasises that effective response would and should consider the economic impact of the pandemic on migrant families and USMCs.
The NIAWG recommends that the Government of South Africa:
1. Includes USMCs in its public health response (including screening, testing and
2. Refrains from arresting or detaining any child, particularly USMCs, regardless of their
immigration status or lack thereof;
3. Ensures that health institutions issues proof of birth in the form of a maternity
certificate to all mothers giving birth during this period regardless of level of
legal documentation or nationality.
4. Ensures that The National Economic Response Plan is inclusive of USMCs to prevent
negative coping mechanism which may compromise the Government’s Covid-19
5. Includes USMCs in the Department of Education’s planning and implementation of its
plans to negate the effects of school closures.
6. Ensures that Child and Youth Care Centres (CYCCs) have adequate resources and
space to implement social distancing and or social isolation.
7. Extends the refugee and asylum seeker permits of all USMCs in the care of the state
automatically for the next 6 months to prevent travelling.
8. Ensures that adequate services are in place for children at risk of abuse, neglect and
Members of the National Inter-Agency Working Group on Care and Protection of USMC:
Do you need legal or psycho-social assistance during the national COVID-19 lockdown and ongoing pandemic. While many organisations physical offices are closed some of us are available over phone and email. See the info-graphic below for the details of some of CoRMSA’s members who you can contact.
Immediate release: 18 March 2020
COVID-19: CoRMSA calls for Non-Exclusionary Precautionary Treatment Measures.
The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) is deeply concerned with the potential impact and spread of COVID-19 in South Africa, the region, and the rest of the world. Following the announcement made by the President of South Africa on the 15th March 2020 with regard to the current status of COVID-19 cases in South Africa, CoRMSA calls on all persons to adhere to the precautionary measures to be followed by all persons within our borders in order to minimise the spread of the virus amongst all who live within the Republic. CoRMSA’s mandate is to promote and protect the human rights of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in South Africa. It is in line with this mandate that CoRMSA calls for non-exclusionary, precautionary and treatment measures to be implemented in a non-discriminatory manner, with regards to COVID-19.
As CoRMSA, we wish to highlight that all individuals living within the Republic and the rest of the world, irrespective of nationality or documentation status (in particular asylum seekers, refugees and migrants), should and must be guaranteed that they will receive necessary attention equal to that provided to citizens when it comes to addressing COVID-19. The COVID-19 virus does not separate or discriminate based on one’s nationality, race, language or colour. Neither should the public health response.
CoRMSA further calls upon the Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Health and Office of the President including the South African Human Right Commission to play a critical role of monitoring and overseeing that the human rights of those who are most vulnerable, such as refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, are not violated when it comes to responding to COVID-19 within the Republic.
Human lives are at stake and now is not the time for the South African government to practice and implement any form of exclusionary or discriminatory measures. This is particularly relevant if the SA Government is to address the threat and spread of COVID-19 effectively. South Africa has a history of basic service exclusion when it comes to accessing basic lifesaving services, such as basic health care service, for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, and CoRMSA wishes to reiterate that now is the time to ensure that those types of exclusions are not repeated. This should and must apply at hospitals, clinics, and Refugee Reception Offices when it comes to permits extension and renewals.
CoRMSA applauds the President of South Africa on the South Africa’s swift and informative response. We encourage all our stakeholders and beneficiaries to follow the precautionary measures outlined by the President, and to keep informed through the correct and reliable information channels.
Now is the time for all those in South Africa, citizens and foreign nationals alike, to be true to the values in South Africa’s Bill of Rights and Constitution, and to the value of uBuntu. We are all connected, and our humanity is intricately linked to the humanity of others. Now is the time to celebrate that, and live it, and ensure that while we exercise physical distancing we also exercise social solidarity.
For more information on COVID-19, please see the SA Government’s official COVID-19 website www.sacoronavirus.co.za
For further information whatsapp “hi” to the Official SA Government COVID-19 support service: 060 012 3456.
This press statement was endorsed by CoRMSA Members: Follow the link- https://www.cormsa.org.za/about-cormsa/cormsa-members/
PDF Link here: https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn%3Aaaid%3Ascds%3AUS%3A6bd2e9ca-e70c-46e6-a936-291e82bf5dcd
1. Background information:
The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) is a national network of organisations working with asylum seekers, refugees and international migrants. CoRMSA currently has 25 member organisations across the country. Our member organisations include legal practitioners, community based refugee and migrant led organisations, advice offices, academic institutions, social service providers amongst others. The CoRMSA model is such that through our members and partners, collectively we cover work at local, provincial, national, regional and global levels to ensure that the daily challenges faced by foreign nationals are addressed through policy and practices that fosters social cohesion. CoRMSA’s main objectives and mission is the promotion and protection of the human rights of all foreign nationals in ways that promote the well-being of all in South Africa and the region. CoRMSA has over fifteen years of experience working on migration engaging in policy advocacy and lobbying; coordination and network building; capacity building; rights awareness and information sharing.
CoRMSA in partnership with Kindernothilfe (KNH) German Government (BMZ) funded project will be implementing “Children in Migration and their communities are empowered to claim their human rights” project. This is 41 months’ project is targeting Children and Youth in Migration and their communities to see that they are empowered to be able to claim their human rights so that they can enjoy inclusive policies and have access to basic services. Part of this project is to develop and setting up project support and administrative system for CoRMSA for effective project implementation and documenting project deliverables and outcomes.
2. Objective of the project support and administrative system.
The overall objective of the develop the Children in Migration project support system in line with the planned project programme of activities. This support system will be able to assist CoRMSA to monitor and evaluate project implementation phases. To ensure effective implementation and follow –up, ongoing evaluation must be built into the implementation, based on predetermined project plan and progress for each learning initiative.
3. Expected Results and Deliverables
Linked and specifically for the project staff implementers (CoRMSA) shall be able to help CoRMSA to draw and utilise the developed project support system administration on the following information:
4. Execution method.
In accordance with KNH and CoRMSA policies, consultant will have required to develop the said project support administrative system in consultation with CoRMSA staff members. The consultant thereof, will have to design an online (soft copy) monitoring and evaluation tools and forms for the project. Also to include Project, Resource, Financial, Quality, Risk and Reporting plans for CoRMSA to use during the project implementation phase.
5. The Prospective Applicant
Prospective applicant could be one person or a team of two-person maximum:
6. Proposal and contract
Proposals should include only following documents:
Please send the proposals by the 28 February 2019
CoRMSA Contact person:
Ms. Gloria Makxeta
Tel: 011 403 7560
Fax: 011 403 7559
For Immediate Release: 25 November 2019.
“CoRMSA Says No to violence against Women and Children”.
2019 Global Theme. #orangetheworld: Uniting to end violence against women and girls on the move.
November 25this commemorated around the world as the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women. Through resolution 54/134 passed in 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated 25 November as a day to bring public awareness and collaborative intervention towards eliminating violence against women and girls. This resolution provides an opportunity to raise awareness and call attention to the urgent need to end violence against women and girls. The 25thNovember also marks the start of 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence leading up to International Human Rights Day –10 December.
The 2019 theme for International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is ‘Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape’. This theme would not have come at better time when violence against women and girls has become one of the most widespread violations of human rights in South Africa and rest of the world. The 2013 World Health Organisations global study indicates that, 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence. Similarly, asylum seekers, refugees, migrant women and girls face specific challenges and protection risks in transit as well as in host communities; these include physical harm and injury, exploitation and gender-based violence. Available evidence indicates that, in South Africa, most migrant women cited gender-based or sexual violence as one of their top threats (Institute for Security Studies Report -2018).
Violence against all women and girls regardless of their nationality or documentation statuses has received international and local attention with statistics of gender based violence (GBV) in South Africa rapidly increasing, most recently resulting in local protests of Total Shutdown Movement in Sandton, Johannesburg and around the country. These campaigns make public the violence which is often silenced and stigmatized and provides space for all women to stand in solidarity and share their experiences of violence and theneed for effective legislative changes and enforcement of these to address the widespread issues.
On this day, the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA), recognises the plight of women and girls on the move. It is significant to note that asylum seeker, refugees and migrant women and girls experience violence as intersectional and multi-layered. Women in migration are particularly vulnerable during their transit to seek protection or a better life as they endure many forms of human rights abuses, both emotional and physical. Reported incidences often include sexual violence, labour exploitation, xenophobia and discrimination. Women in migration face further violence and silencing, as they will often not report incidences of violence for fear of experiencing further victimisation and deportation as a result of their nationality and documentation status.
In commemorating this day, (CoRMSA) joins the rest of the world in calling for unity and action against violence against women and girls andmore concerted efforts to stop violence against women and girls on the move. CoRMSA also calls for those involved in gender based violence to be held accountable before the court of law. In this regard, CoRMSA applauds President Cyril Ramaphosa for unveiling an emergency action plan to combat violence against women and children, including his directive to the National Assembly and the National Council to provinces to prioritize amendments to various pieces of laws to ensure stiff and harsher sentences to perpetrators of violence against women and children. Take action and protect Women and children with No harm.
For inquiries or more information please contact: Thifulufheli Sinthumule (CoRMSA) firstname.lastname@example.org/+27 71 358 0059 or Muluti Phiri (CoRMSA) email@example.com/+27711500113 or Abigail Dawson (CoRMSA) firstname.lastname@example.org/ +27748515683
For Immediate Release:
20 November 2019.
Universal Children’s Day: Upholding the rights of children in migration
Universal Children’s day is celebrated annually on 20thNovember. This day was established in 1954 to promote international togetherness, rights awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare. November 20th is an important day as it is also a date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The convention sets out a number of children’s rights such as the right to be protected from violence and discrimination and the right to life, health and education.
This day aims to bring awareness and solidarity with children from around the world who have experienced violence in form of abuse, exploitation, discrimination based on their nationality, race, ethnicity, language and documentation status.
Despite South Africa having progressive policies, legislation and being a signatory to a number of international conventions, there are challenges with regards to the implementation of such legislation. For instance, the South African Constitution guarantees access to basic education – Chapter 2, Section 29 of the Constitution states that, “Everyone has the right to a basic education, including adult basic education”. It is clear that both international and domestic policies guarantee rights to all children irrespective of nationality or documentation status.
On this day, CoRMSA brings attention to the plight of children in migration in South Africa. Children in migration are particularly vulnerable and prone to discrimination with their lives fully dependent on the acquisition of documentation such as birth certificates, asylum permits, refugee status or study permits. Children in migration continue to face discrimination and numerous barriers in accessing basic services, such as enabling documentation, health and education. Documentation for children in migration is fundamental for children’s protection and in accessing critical basic services. It is their constitutional and fundamental right to have access to these services.
While Universal Children’s Day encourages each one of us to advocate, promote and protect children’s rights in order to build a better world for children, such, should not be limited to this day alone but a continuous struggle for justice. CoRMSA calls upon government, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, communities/leaders and all relevant authorities to take an important stance in ensuring that the rights of children in migration and children in general are respected, promoted and upheld.
For inquiries or more information please contact: Thifulufheli Sinthumule (CoRMSA) email@example.com/+27 71 358 0059 or Muluti Phiri (CoRMSA) firstname.lastname@example.org/+27 711500113 or Abigail Dawson (CoRMSA) email@example.com/ +27748515683
For Immediate Release: 16thNovember 2019.
International Day for Tolerance: Upholding the Human Rights of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants.
International Day for Tolerance was established by the United Nations in 1996 to be a reminder of the principles that inspired the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. This day is aimed at spreading a value – tolerance – which is central to universal human rights and fundamental freedoms.
This day is significant in the current era characterised byrising xenophobia, widespread violence, growing intolerances, injustice and human rights violations, largely characterized by a fundamental disregard for human rights, against refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.
South Africa’s history is marked by institutionalized and societal intolerances. Under apartheid, immense discrimination and violence were instituted against black South Africans. The apartheid legacy continues into contemporary South Africa. Non- nationals fleeing poverty, violence and seeking out a better life in South Africa are the victims of everyday marginalization and discrimination. The recent looting of non-nationals’ shops, massive destruction of property and killings in different parts of the country reminded us yet again, of the deep-rooted attitudes of prejudice and xenophobia against refugees, asylum seekers and migrants living in South Africa.
On this day, The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) is calling on all government leaders, relevant authorities and South African citizens to desist from negative perceptions and attitudes towards refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. Instead, welcome and aim to strengthen social cohesion between host communities and refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, ensuring that their fundamental rights as laid out in Chapter 2 of the Constitution are realized and make available efficient services to provide them legal stay in South Africa.
It is therefore, important that we all commit ourselves to effectively promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants regardless of their documentation status and work towards the inclusion and recognition of the value that refugees, asylum seekers and migrants bring to South Africa.
For inquiries or more information please contact: Thifulufheli Sinthumule (CoRMSA) firstname.lastname@example.org/+27 71 358 0059 or Muluti Phiri (CoRMSA) email@example.com/+27711500113 or Abigail Dawson (CoRMSA) firstname.lastname@example.org/+27748515683
This week CoRMSA and its member organisations are organizing and apart of various activities and events in forwarding our mandate to promote and protect the human rights of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in South Africa. These include:
Abigail Dawson and Muluti Phiri are attending an urgent task team meeting regarding xenophobia hosted by Foundation For Human Rights.
Muluti Phiri , advocacy officer in collaboration with Lawyers For Human Rights (LHR) will be hosting a community dialogue in Orange Farm discussing matters relating to xenophobia, migration and documentation.
CoRMSA is a member of the reference team for joint research project by African Centre For Migration and Society (ACMS) and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) looking at Migration and Disability. Abigail Dawson will be attending the inception meeting.
CoRMSA will be attending the Ruth First Memorial Lecture at the University of Witswaterand where Achille Mbembe will deliver the lecture titled: Migrancy and Populism: Is our politics normalising the language of xenophobia
The CoRMSA Team will be attending and participating at Open Society Foundations South Africa (OSF-SA) meeting on xenophobic violence
For Immediate Release: 24 September 2019.
Heritage Day Press Statement: Embracing asylum seekers, refugees and migrants
The month of September is commemorated and celebrated as the National Heritage Month. 24th September in South Africa is National Heritage day, where South Africans celebrate their culture and the diversity of beliefs and traditions in a wider context of a nation that belongs to all who live in it.
Heritage day should aim to unite South African communities regardless of nationality through cultural diversity in order to promotepeace, social cohesion, reconciliation and economic development,free from prejudice, hatred, xenophobia and other intolerances. This day is meant for all the people living in the country including Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Migrants. It offers a unique opportunity for all people to celebrate, embrace and learn from a diversity.
This year’s heritage month is being celebrated under the theme, “Celebrating South Africa’s literary classics in the year of indigenous languages”. Unfortunately, for asylum seekers , refugees and migrants there is little or indeed no cause tojoin in thecelebrations. What was witnessed in the recent past weeks was inconceivable! The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa(CoRMSA), strongly condemns the xenophobic attacks on non-nationals and the subsequent looting and destruction of mainly foreign owned shops by locals in different parts of the country. This behavior fueled by generalized myths and negative perceptions about migrants, saw loss of many innocent lives and displacement of numerous non-nationals among them vulnerable women and children.
We pose a question of Ubuntu and ask all south Africans to celebrate this Heritage Day by embracing social cohesion with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. This is what Ubuntu is meant to be!
South Africa’s rich and diverse heritage, including a progressive and respected Constitution can manage to find a lasting solution to end all forms of discrimination based on people’s origins. With concerted political will, we believe that these xenophobic violence and attacks and massive destruction of property, can be prevented and lasting solutions implemented.
CoRMSA urges all people living in South Africa, including asylum seekers, refugees and migrants to boldly celebrate our diverse cultural heritage in unity.
For inquiries or more information please contact: Thifulufheli Sinthumule (CoRMSA) email@example.com/+27 71 358 0059 or Muluti Phiri (CoRMSA) firstname.lastname@example.org/ +27711500113 or Abigail Dawson (CoRMSA) email@example.com/+27748515683