Saturday, May 24, 2014

Stateless Refugee Babies

Thousands of Syrian refugee infants have not had their births registered, setting themselves up for a potential lifetime of statelessness:
A recent UNHCR survey suggests that more than 75 percent of Syrians born in Lebanon since 2011 have not been properly registered. The real figure is likely much higher. Some families simply are not aware of the importance of birth registration, but for many others, it is impossible without the right documents, which were either forgotten in the hurry to escape, destroyed in the fighting, or, like Ibrahim's marriage certificate, never existed...
The complicated birth registration process in Lebanon is a low priority for refugees, involving time, money and often documents that many do not have. But without it, thousands of stateless children will be unable to access healthcare, education or other basic rights.
More importantly, these children have no official ties to their parents, making it virtually impossible for them to cross borders or pass through Lebanon's many checkpoints. As stateless adults, they are likely to find themselves on the margins of society, potentially barred from jobs, property ownership or even marriage...
The situation is likely to grow in scale, as the more than 1 million refugees in Lebanon settle into life in exile, three years into a conflict with no end in sight. Aid groups report that informal, and legally invalid, marriages often carried out by unlicensed sheikhs are on the rise among refugees unfamiliar with the legal processes in Lebanon.

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