Noura speaks about her family, they live in one of the orphanages in the south of Turkey; “I have three children, the youngest one is 4 years old and they don’t have any official documents.
Noura is a Syrian Lady, she is 25 years old, she married a Tunisian fighter and gave birth to seven years old twins and suddenly she did not hear anything about them. Then she married a Saudi fighter and gave birth to a 4-year-old girl and he was arrested in the north of Syria and she never heard about him again.
Noura says, “I got married when I was pretty young and I did not know that I was going to live in this miserable situation while children are without any future because my husbands had fake identities”.
After she lost contact with her Tunisian husband, Noura discovered that his name was not real, but her second husband’s name was real. He gave her his family’s number to contact them but they did not respond to her after they knew that their son got arrested.
The shocking thing was that his family refused to register their marriage and their child officially in order to live a normal life and to get her father’s nationality.
The “non-registered” cases existed in Syria before, it includes Syrian ladies that got married to foreigners and they were not able to register their marriage officially, or the husband refused to admit his marriage to them or their children. Furthermore, there is also the Kurds’ case where the lots of Syrian Kurdish children in Kurdish controlled areas have had their citizenship revoked and thereby labelled “Non-registered”.
This situation has been exacerbated and it has led to lots of new phases of statelessness, it happened because of the increasing number of marriages to unknown foreigners and because of the security conditions they cannot register their marriage officially.
There are hundreds of Syrian ladies struggling like Noura, the statistics are not accurate about the number of children that were born from Syrian ladies and foreign fighters whether in the cities that are under the control of the Syrian government or in the cities that are not. But the press reports, the studies and the statistics indicate that the number of non-registered children is very high.
A missed life
Ilham is a mother of two baby girls, she gave birth to them with a foreigner fighter, he was killed in one of the battles. She lives with her mother in “I’zaz” and she says; “I cannot take any humanitarian aid because I do not have any official papers for my children, my living conditions are very bad, my girls are deprived from the minimum necessities for their life”.
All children are deprived from their right to education, as Shahira (a fake name) said; “I am Syrian and I got married also to a foreign fighter in Daa’sh and I am living now in Idlib, I could not register my children in school because they don’t have any official papers so I am home schooling them”.
Rasha Al Tabshi is a journalist and the founder of the The Syrian initiative to eradicate statelessness, she said; “statelessness has existed in Syria since before the revolution, but after the revolution the statelessness increased a lot and most of the cases are because of unregistered marriages from foreigner fighters. In addition to the births that happened due to rape in the cities where the government controls or in other cities in Syria.
Rasha continued and said that there are no accurate statistics, this situation has existed in Syria from the north until the south, confirming that the children are deprived from all their rights especially in education.
The negative impact
Rasha indicated that the Syrian initiative to eliminate statelessness is working on research that includes the repercussions and the negative effects on non-registered children and their mothers who are suffering from the psychological effects.
Rasha added that statelessness in taking away those children’s lives and future, they cannot study, work, or participate in the elections, and the mothers are being ashamed socially and they are blamed by society because they married foreigners. But there is a research by the Syrian initiative that the children are able to study at schools but they cannot take the official exams so they cannot obtain any certificate, consequently they cannot have any advanced education. A lot of children are suffering from being exploited for work, they are obliged to work under hard and circumstances at a very young age in order to help their families, this affects their mental and physical development.
This situation also affects all of society, it incites people to hate their society, and they might be ticking time bombs that may explodes at any time and damage society in multiple ways.
The Kurdish situation
More than 150 thousand Kurds were barred from Syrian nationality, by legislative decree issued by “Nazem Qudsi” the previous Syrian president, he implemented the decree on 05/10/1962, and it has continued during the time of Jamal AbdulNasser and Hafez Al Assad and now his son Bashar Al Assad as well.
According to reports published by Kurdish sites, the statistics were calculated in one day. The Kurds are split into 3 segments in Syria, the first segment of Kurdish society have the Syrian nationality. The second part; they don’t have the Syrian nationality and they are labelled “foreigners”. The third part; they are not even mentioned in the records, and they were labelled “non-registered”. Until now, thousands of Kurds are deprived from their right to have the Syrian citizenship although they have spent their whole lives in Syria.
Despite the fact that Syria has signed several agreements and international treaties guaranteeing children the nationality, this has not prevented Syria from breaching these agreements legally and practically. Furthermore, Syria signed the agreement that stipulates elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (sidaw) which has preserved the article no.9; “state parties shall give the women an equal right as the men to her children’s nationality”. This privilege is part of the law that guarantees a child a name and a nationality under the international covenant on civil and political rights which states; “every child has the right to have a nationality”.
The non-registered cases are very complicated and it needs some solutions in the upcoming transitional phase, it means that all staff in charge should find some social, managerial, and legal solutions in order to solve the problems and its effects.