Author(s): Cerise Fritsch , Elissa Johnson and Aurelija Juska
Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.
Since the economic and social breakdown in Zimbabwe, hundreds of thousands of people have fled the country for South Africa, including thousands of unaccompanied refugee minors. An unaccompanied refugee minor, or a “URM, ” is a person under the age of eighteen who has either crossed the border alone or with another child, or who has found himself or herself living in a foreign country without an adult caregiver. Zimbabwean URMs come to South Africa in search of education, shelter, or jobs to support family back in Zimbabwe. Unaccompanied refugee minors who travel to South Africa face a myriad of challenges, including physical safety, life without a parent or guardian, legal and social discrimination, and a constant struggle to find food, shelter, education, health care, and employment. Although these children have rights under international and domestic law, political and other factors combined have denied children the protection and support to which they are legally entitled.