IOM, Zambia Launch the Best Interests Guidelines for Vulnerable Migrant Children

IOM Chief of Mission Marianne Lane (keft) with Permanent Secretary of Zambia Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (right).

Lusaka —The “best interests of the child” is one of the core principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The Government of Zambia is a signatory to the UNCRC, as well as the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC). The Government of the Republic of Zambia, in partnership with relevant stakeholders and civil society organizations (CSOs), with support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has developed guidelines for the implementation of best interests assessment (BIA) and best interest’s determination (BID) for vulnerable migrant children in Zambia. This joint effort is part of the implementation of the United Nations – Government of Zambia Joint Programme on Social Protection “to operationalize the principle of the best interests of the child”.

Sesheke District in Zambia’s Western Province, bordering Namibia, experiences migration flows from neighboring countries, as well as irregular migration of its nationals into Namibia, including those who become subject to exploitation as victims of human trafficking. On the 23rd of March 2019, the Government of the Republic of Zambia, through the Ministry of community Development and Social Services, and in partnership with the IOM, launched the “best interests’ determination for vulnerable child migrants in Zambia” guidelines, and handed over a protective Shelter in Sesheke Western Province.

During the handover ceremony, Ms Marianne Lane, IOM Zambia Chief of Mission, presented the keys for the Place of Safety to Ms. Pamela C Kabamba, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS), who was representing the Hon. Minister Olipa Phiri MP.

“IOM commends the coordination efforts of the Government of the Republic of Zambia and its partners in ensuring the successful launch of the much needed shelter, which will go a long way to ensuring the needs of victims of human trafficking and unaccompanied and separated migrant children are met”, indicated Ms Marianne Lane.

This event was witnessed by various partners including Western Province Permanent Secretary, traditional leaders, the Sesheke Mixed Migration Committee, Civil Society and Faith Based Organizations and service providers.

During the same event, the MCDSS, with IOM’s support, launched the “Guidelines for Best Interest Determination of Vulnerable Migrant Children in Zambia”.  The Guidelines are designed to orient and formalize BID processes in accordance with international, regional and national minimum standards. The BID Guidelines seek to improve service delivery by promoting consistency, efficiency and effectiveness when responding to the needs of vulnerable migrant children, which puts the child’s best interest at the centre. Zambia is among the first countries globally to establish such Guidelines specifically for migrant children in situations of vulnerability.

“I am glad to note that this shelter and the Best Interest Determination Guidelines being launched today symbolizes Government’s commitment to ensuring the lives of vulnerable adults of children are protected, including migrants… Zambia has an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of all children, leaving no one behind”, said Ms. Pamela C Kabamba.

The shelter refurbishments and development of the Guidelines were implemented as part of the United Nations Joint Programme on Social Protection. This Joint UN Programme involves IOM, FAO, ILO, UNICEF and WFP. The programme would not have been possible without the financial support of the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Government of Finland, the Government of Sweden and Irish Aid. The United States Department of State Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) also contributed to the shelter renovations under a regional programme to address irregular migration in Southern Africa.

For further information, please contact Emmanuel Sinkala ( ), IOM Zambia