Minister says refugee children in SA must attend school

Refugee children should have access to education in South Africa, Minister of Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya said on Saturday.

“I urge you as children to also take responsibility to attend school because without education, it will be extremely difficult to make it in life anywhere in the world,” she said at a Lekgotla in Bella Bella, Limpopo.

“For you to live a good life when you grow up, you need to listen to your teachers and parents, study and pass,” she said.

About 150 South African children and child refugees had gathered to celebrate the Day of the African Child and World Refugee Day. The children criticised victimisation of refugees and expressed the need for recognition of rights of young refugees.

It was also emphasised at the gathering that refugees were not in South Africa to steal jobs but that they could use their skills to contribute to the development of the country.

Mayende-Sibiya said in a statement that the government had made efforts to improve the process of registering asylum seekers and refugees.

“Article 22 of the Convention requires that we provide services to children who are seeking refugee status or who are considered refugees, whether unaccompanied or accompanied by their parents or by any other person,” she said.

“As a loving nation, South Africans have to ensure that refugee children receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance.”

“We have to work together to protect these children from discrimination and abuse,” said Mayende-Sibiya. - Sapa

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