Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stateless North Korean school-age refugees living in China

A report called "Lives for Sale," found that only about a third of children born to North Korean women married to Chinese men were registered under China's household registration system, called hukou. Without hukou, these kids, known as "stateless children," cannot go to school, get textbooks, find a job, or go to a hospital.

"Their future is grim," says Tim Peters, human rights activist and founder of Helping Hands Korea, a Christian organization in Seoul that helps North Korean defectors. "Unless they get help, they have no future."

Some pay bribes so their unregistered children can attend school. The 4-year-old daughter of Kim Mi-sung, a North Korean defector from Gilju who uses a pseudonym, goes to a kindergarten without hukou. Ms. Kim has to pay 400 yuan a year for books, which are usually given free.

When her daughter was born, Kim and her Chinese husband were asked to pay 1,000 yuan to register, but the couple, who bring in around 1,500 yuan a year, couldn't afford it.

[The Christian Science Monitor]

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