For this issue of the MENASP’s Policy Innovation Case Studies series, Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) presents us with the challenges the Syrian refugees in Lebanon face to register new births and how the current policies in Lebanon are inefficient in tackling such issues.
Since the onset of the crisis in Syria in 2011, Lebanon has received over 1.5 million Syrian refugees. With the Lebanese government lacking a clear national policy towards refugees, the latter was left facing challenges on many levels, including birth registration. The lack of basic birth documentation would potentially put thousands of children at the risk of becoming stateless. Furthermore, in 2015, the Lebanese government asked the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to suspend registering new refugees, making it more difficult for them to obtain formal documentation necessary for the birth registration process. This became a major humanitarian concern that could potentially increase the numbers of unregistered births. In 2016, striving to address this phenomenon, Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI), at the American University of Beirut (AUB), used data from the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) to produce an infographic on the challenges of birth registration faced by Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Building on this effort, IFI initiated a series of closed dialogue sessions with relevant stakeholders and experts to identify the main obstacles faced by Syrians in birth registration. The outcome of these discussions were recommendations made to the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities (MoIM), which in turn endorsed and implemented these through circulating internal memorandums that eased the bureaucratic procedures impeding birth registration.