The Middle East’s Growing Population of Stateless Children

How It Works
July 25 2014 12:28 PM

Stateless in the Middle East

Par7919266
A Syrian girl leans out of a window in a disused house on June 28, 2014 in the Fikirtepe area of Istanbul.

Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images

Deborah Amos of NPR reports on an overlooked aspect of Syria’s refugee crisis. Thousands of the  children born to the roughly 2.5 million Syrians who have fled to neighboring countries may have no citizenship:

 A recent report by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, suggests that 75 percent of Syrians born in Lebanon since 2011 have not been properly registered. Many families don't have any identification documents, which were destroyed in the fighting or left behind in a panicked escape.

Advertisement

The numbers are even harder to come by in Turkey, where hundreds of thousands of refugees are unregistered. They slipped across the border for safety, but their babies born in Turkey have no official status.

There are about 12 million stateless people in the world today, many as the result of the breakup of states in the former Yugoslavia or Soviet Union, or because of ethnic discrimination. Stateless people often have difficulty in gaining access to legal protection, social services, or education, and have difficulties traveling—one reason why the Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes a “right to a nationality.”

In the case of Syrian refugees, many parents still haven’t formally registered in the countries where they are living, for fear of the information getting back to the Syrian authorities, leaving themselves and their children in legal limbo.

So in addition to the future of the Middle East’s borders being very much in doubt, it seems there’s going to be a sizable future population with no nationality at all.  

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 2 2014 8:07 AM The Dark Side of Techtopia
  Life
Quora
Oct. 2 2014 8:27 AM How Do Teachers Kill the Joy of Reading for Students?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 2 2014 8:47 AM Season 2 of The Bridge Was Confusing, Bizarre, and Uneven. I Loved It.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 2 2014 7:30 AM What Put the Man in the Moon in the Moon?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?