Lack of residency limits refugees’ freedom of movement; leaves them vulnerable to arrest, abuse, and exploitation; hinders access to education and health care; and exacerbates child labor and early marriage. It can mean that any interaction with authorities is a risk.
Previously, children under 15 were covered by their parents’ residency status, but upon turning 15, they had to apply for their own residency using either a Syrian national ID or passport. However, many children fled to Lebanon before obtaining those documents. According to a Norwegian Refugee Council briefing document, 78 percent of children surveyed had a Syrian civil extract, also known as an individual status record, as compared with 6 percent with a passport. However, many of the individual status records will have been issued more than two years ago. General Security should amend the new regulation to accept these older personal status records.
Older Syrian children face increasing restrictions on their freedom of movement precisely when they may need to travel longer distances and cross more checkpoints to attend secondary school. And although young children can usually cross checkpoints without incident, older children are more likely to be stopped.
“The new decision is a step in the right direction, but should be expanded to ensure that people aren’t falling through the cracks,” Fakih said. “Children who turned 15 in Lebanon and lost legal status should not be excluded from this decision simply because they have already turned 18.”