“The Children From Nowhere”
Rolling Stone, May 22, 2015
“As the Syrian refugee crisis worsens, more and more children are being born without proper identification, laying the foundation for an ongoing humanitarian crisis that could last decades. … Beyond those issues lies an even worse fear: that of being susceptible to violent groups like ISIS. The UNHCR warns that stateless people face a ‘heightened risk of trafficking or child recruitment.’ ‘You’re going to effectively start creating this population of people that are marginalized, that don’t have opportunities – all of the indicators you look at in terms of radicalization,’ Amnesty International’s Lama Fakih says of the growing, potentially stateless population in Lebanon. … A lack of information among those in the camps means many families assume registering their newborns is functionally impossible, according to several new parents I interviewed in one camp in eastern Lebanon. A January 2015 study from the Norwegian Refugee Council found ’92 percent of the refugees interviewed were not able to complete the possible legal and administrative steps to register the births of their children born in Lebanon.’ The latest data show that at least 36,000 Syrian children are facing statelessness, though the real number could be far higher, as the U.N. doesn’t track births of refugees whose parents aren’t registered. … Though it’s technically the parents’ job to actively seek out the proper documentation, a combination of fear, misinformation and poverty inhibits most refugees from taking the necessary steps. And since Lebanon doesn’t allow formal refugee camps – unlike other neighboring countries – many of the refugees in the archipelago of de facto camps that have sprung up have little access to correct information about birth registration.”
Quickie analysis: As the article notes, a lack of citizenship prevents travel as well as access to education, employment and social services. Another (unanticipated) problem the Syrian civil war is bequeathing to the future.