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Securing Status: Syrian Refugees and the Documentation of Legal Status, Identity, and Family Relationships in Jordan

By: Norwegian Refugee Council , International Human Rights Clinic: Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School

Nearly six years into the Syrian conflict, Syria’s neighbours are grappling with the challenge of accommodating significant numbers of Syrian refugees over the long term. In Jordan, there are more than 656,000 Syrian refugees registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as of September 2016. Close to 80 per cent of these registered refugees live outside refugee camps, in Jordanian cities, towns, and rural areas. In this report, the term “Syrian refugee” is used mainly to describe people of Syrian nationality who have registered with UNHCR, but also encompasses Syrians who have not registered with UNHCR and are seeking international protection in Jordan.

This report describes Syrian refugees’ experiences obtaining government-issued identity cards and birth and marriage certificates outside the camps – documentation that enables refugees to prove their legal status, identity, and family relationships in Jordan. This report outlines the relevant official processes, the challenges refugees encounter, and the consequences faced by those who lack documentation. Seventy-two Syrian refugee families living in host communities in Amman and the north of Jordan were interviewed for this report in early 2016.