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

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

Should the United States Grant Asylum to Victims of Domestic Violence?

The Apple Watch Will Make Everyone Around You Just a Little Worse Off

This Was the First Object Ever Designed

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

Moneybox

How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us

A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest jewels.

Music

A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now …

The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.

Is Everyone Going to Declare Independence if Scotland Does It? 

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Trending News Channel
Sept. 12 2014 11:26 AM Identical Twins Aren’t Really Identical
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 14 2014 2:37 PM When Abuse Is Not Abuse Don’t expect Adrian Peterson to go to prison. In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 13 2014 8:38 AM “You’re More Than Just a Number” Goucher College goes transcript-free in admissions.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 12 2014 4:05 PM Life as an NFL Wife: “He's the Star. Keep Him Happy.”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 12 2014 5:55 PM “Do You Know What Porn Is?” Conversations with Dahlia Lithwick’s 11-year-old son.
  Arts
Music
Sept. 14 2014 11:44 PM A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now … The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 12 2014 3:53 PM We Need to Pass Legislation on Artificial Intelligence Early and Often
  Health & Science
New Scientist
Sept. 14 2014 8:38 AM Scientific Misconduct Should Be a Crime It’s as bad as fraud or theft, only potentially more dangerous.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 12 2014 4:36 PM “There’s No Tolerance for That” Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh say they don’t abide domestic abuse. So why do the Seahawks and 49ers have a combined six players accused of violence against women?