VULNERABILITY OF CHILD REFUGEES: A SOCIO-LEGAL CRITIQUE

INTRODUCTION

“Separation from their relatives, neglect, violence and abuse, psychiatric disorders and anguish, isolation, prejudice, economic exploitation, including trafficking and child marriage, are all common hazards and violations faced by refugee children. If they are not adequately supported during the integration process, refugee children will have limited opportunities to interact with other children and youth in their communities, as well as a high risk of misunderstanding and acculturation stress, which can lead to escalating social tensions and conflict. Children and teenagers are increasingly likely to migrate with their parents as well as migrate independently in search of work and educational possibilities. Migration is a typical economic coping or survival strategy for households, and it can either bring new chances for families and their children or leave them more vulnerable. Children are particularly affected by these vulnerabilities. This research brief is based on findings from a study called Understanding Child Migration in India, which looked at internal migration in India. In-migration or internal migration is defined as the number of migrated people counted at their place of enumeration, whereas out-migration is defined as people moving out of a place. A special emphasis on children to better understand child migration in India, researchers looked at national data sets such as Census 1991, 2001, and 2011. The brief identifies key patterns in children’s movement, as well as the reasons for their migration and the nature of their vulnerabilities.”[1]

LITERACY RATE

“All migrant aged till 19 whether it is female or male both had very high literacy rates (58.7% in Census 2001 and 63.4 percent in Census 2011, when compared to non-migrants 49.4% in Census2001 and 57.7% in Census 2011. According to Census 2011, while literacy among child migrants in the age group 0-14 years is higher (52.3%) than among non-migrants (48.4%), literacy among 15-19-year-old migrant children is lower (87.5%) than among non-migrants (89.2 percent). According to Census 2011 study, migrant children (22.5 percent) complete secondary schooling at a higher rate than non-migrant children (15.0 percent).”[2]

VULNERABILITY AMONGST CHILD MIGRANTS

“Children’s lives are recognized to be influenced by migration. Migrant children lose the safety of their social networks at home, and their well-being is typically compromised as they relocate, according to many researchers4. The economic well-being of migrant children were examined in this study using their household’s monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) as well as the vulnerabilities they face. When comparing migrant and non-migrant households by MPCE tercile, it appears that migrants are much better off than non-migrants if they live in the top MPCE tercile. As the number of children in the household grows from one to three, the disparity narrows. When comparing middle and bottom tercile homes, the gap between migrant and non-migrant households narrows, showing the disparity between the richest and poorest migrant households.

According to the NFHS-4 data, migrant children in early childhood (0-5 years old) are 8% less likely to be adopted and 15 percent less likely to be underweight and suffer from diarrhea. In terms of health-related outcomes, this shows that migrant children do better than non-migrant children. In comparison to non-migrant children, migrant children in the age group 0-5 are less likely to be immunized. It’s crucial to note that this discovery should not be seen in isolation, as many other factors, such as household affluence, geography (urban or rural), and their mothers’ educational level, have been connected to children’s health and development. Children in the poorest migrant households, on the other hand, are more susceptible due to increased employment and fewer educational options. Boys, children from the poorest tercile, ST, and Muslim families from rural areas are also more likely to work, according to regression research. Early entry into the labor market for young children may mean that they may not have the opportunity to acquire the skills needed to enter the workforce, perpetuating the intergenerational cycle of poverty.”[3]

REQUIRED POLICIES

States have an urgent and immediate need to provide non-discriminatory help and minimise risk for child migrants stuck by coronavirus-induced lockdowns, whether they are barred from planned routes or abandoned by traffickers who are no longer able to feed them. The best interests of the child, as with all children, must be a major priority in the formulation of applicable interventions. The nature of the assistance is determined by the migrant child’s acknowledged needs and desires. These can only be determined through the acquisition of high-quality and timely data. So yet, there is a scarcity of information on juvenile migrants who have become trapped or are adversely affected by the disease. Child welfare authorities in charge of child protection for vulnerable populations within their authority should put in place systems to document the pandemic’s impact on child migrants and determine their needs and wishes, using a rights-based approach.

Many forced child migrants, including refugees and exploited youngsters, do not have official identification papers. For stateless Rohingya child refugees in India, for example, their lack of identification credentials, along with the pandemic’s economic destruction, has enhanced their vulnerability to exploitation. As governments work to limit the pandemic’s effects, there is a chance to address this critical document shortage by providing legal identifying documents to all children.

  • Governments should guarantee that all children under their control, regardless of nationality or migration status, have access to the social support and protection measures required to avoid destitution and other pandemic-related effects. Several organizations have advocated for the creation of community kitchens to feed migrant workers. 50 Good practice examples that are already in use (see above) should be widely emulated.
  • To avoid the acknowledged risks posed by congregate settings, detained juvenile migrants should be discharged from immigration detention facilities as soon as possible. Where institutional care is required, child migrants should be placed in child-friendly facilities that have been modified to include physical separation and other health-related measures to limit infection risks. Child migrants seeking safety and protection in transit and destination countries should not be subjected to repatriations, deportations, or other kinds of externalization.

SUGGESTIONS AND CONCLUSION

Policy Attention is needed to Prevent Child Marriage. As it is one of the major cause of migration. It is critical to avoid child labor. Given that 19.76 million migrant children aged below 14 are taken into the consideration, it is critical to guarantee that the amendment act CL, 2016, as well as the RTFACE act 2010, are effectively implemented. Targeted interventions are needed for migratory hotspots to make sure that these children got the access to the services. Close Data Gaps: Child migrants must be precisely identified in national and micro surveys so that their needs and further approach will be taken into consideration for future improvement. Child migration research developing some new idea or some agenda for child vulnerable is very critical nowadays. Children must be recognized as active, with the agenda aiming to capture many aspects of child migration, such as children’s vulnerabilities across different wealth terciles and situations.

Author(s) Name: Khushi Sheokand (NMIMS, Mumbai)

References:

[1] UNICEF. 2020. Understanding Child migration in India. [online] Available at: <https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.unicef.org/india/media/3416/file/Child-migration-India2020-policy-brief.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjL7IPWyf_0AhWyzTgGHbFpCVAQFnoECAgQAQ&usg=AOvVaw1rO-_eG_dJI83JOCuWYIe4> [Accessed 25 December 2021].

[2] Census 2001, 2011.

[3] Supra note 2.

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