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African Journal of Social Work

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Analysing the effectiveness of foster care arrangement for unaccompanied refugee children at Tongogara Refugee Camp, Zimbabwe

Johanne Mhlanga, Mary Joyce Kapesa, Charles Dziro

Abstract


Refugee life is a complex life defined by poverty, vulnerability and uncertainty, with vulnerability at the core of the matrix. However, unaccompanied refugee minors are even more vulnerable in their quest to navigate the thorny path of being refugees. To address their emotional, cognitive, social and physical well being, unaccompanied refugee minors are placed under foster care to ensure that they are protected. However, no sooner they are placed in foster care than they face the harsh realities of foster care arrangement. They suffer from peripheralisation of their welfare. Worse still, foster parents and child welfare personnel operates in what this paper calls a ''tunnel vision'' in which there is clear lack of adherence to the fundamental child welfare procedures. The current set up and practice is replete with challenges and the welfare of unaccompanied refugee children is compromised. Even more worrying is the fact that the approach to foster care neglects the quintessential and on the ground realities of the affected people. As if that is not enough, child welfare players appear to be distraught with other pressing issues at the expense of the most fragile group, the unaccompanied refugee minors whose welfare and needs are of utmost importance.

Keywords: unaccompanied refugee children, refugee, foster care, foster parent




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