Protecting children affected by migration
How to prevent delinquency and protect minors from neglect? Who should deal with their future and help these vulnerable children?
A young Uzbek woman left for a neighbouring country in search of work. She gave a birth to a baby there. Since she could not work with her new-born baby in her lap, she left the child at an orphanage. When the Center for social-legal aid to minors (CSLAM) of the Department of Internal Affairs of Tashkent city got to know about this, its staff brought the child back to Uzbekistan. The Center reached out to the child’s grandmother, who was happy to take care of her grandchild.
CSLAM of Tashkent City is the only authority in Uzbekistan, which performs the functions of a transit center. It operates in accordance with the Convention on legal assistance and legal relations in civil, family and criminal cases, signed by the CIS countries in 2002.
CSLAM of Tashkent City receives information about Uzbek children, left in CIS countries without parental care. The center investigates the reasons how a child has reached another country, and then returns the him/her to Uzbekistan. These children may not be only those left behind by migrating parents. They can also be minors who may have left Uzbekistan themselves in search of a job.
In 2018, CSLAM returned 45 children from the CIS countries to Uzbekistan. Often the children of migrants are left behind without care and guardianship. Abandoned by migrant parents, these children may find themselves on the streets, subjected to violence. Some of them may commit illegal acts in order to survive. As a result, they may end up in the specialized educational correctional institutions.
"According to the assessment of the situation of girls in the specialized educational correctional institutions, carried out by UNICEF and the Women's Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan, 21% of girls were placed in these institutions as a result of the consequences of migration of their parents," says Furkat Lutfulloev, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Uzbekistan.
How to prevent delinquency and protect minors from neglect? Who should deal with their future and help these vulnerable children? A seminar for the heads of CSLAM from 14 regions of Uzbekistan was held on 12-13 September 2019 aimed to probe answers to these and other questions.
The seminar was organized by UNICEF in cooperation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs as a part of the project "Protection of children affected by migration". This project is funded by the European Union and implemented by UNICEF in cooperation with the Women's Committee of Uzbekistan.
Bakhriddin Sultanov, Head of Section on crime prevention, Ministry of Internal Affairs, highlighted the problems in protection of children affected by migration. “Parents, leaving the country for work, do not officially assign guardianship of their children to a relative. As a result, no one is officially accountable for their well-being and safety of the child,” he said. “Inspectors of minors and representatives of the Women’s Committee in makhallas have limited responsibilities towards these children. There are no specialists, who can help children left behind by migrants to cope with the difficulties they face. Hopefully, social workers, who will be employed in the CSLAM, will make changes in this field.”
“There are situations when we pass a child to relatives, but unfortunately, care-taking families do not always develop good relations with the child,” said Nilufar Muinova, Head of the CSLAM, Department of Internal Affairs of Tashkent city. “It is important to expand our work, particularly to monitor the situation of each child, so that we could help the child reintegrate into a family and society.”