A Father’s wish to register his daughterAdan, a Syrian refugee father living in Lebanon wants basic rights for his daughter, born on Father’s Day four years ago.
Amal is the greatest gift 40-year-old Adnan received on Father’s Day, however, during the four years in Lebanon after leaving Syria, this day still brings tears to his eyes. Four year old Amal is not registered and therefore has no legal or civil documents.
Amal, the youngest of four children, was born in Lebanon on Father’s Day, June 21, celebrated yesterday across the Middle East, after Adnan and his wife Lina decided to flee Damascus in 2013.
"We had a decent life in Damascus. We owned a big beautiful house and a car, my children were enrolled in school, we had all what we dreamt of and never had to ask for help from others,” says Adnan who was a bank teller back in Syria.
Similar to the more than one million Syrians who came to Lebanon after the Syrian crisis, Adnan and his family struggled to find decent shelter. In the beginning they lived in an Informal Tented Settlement (ITS) in Arsal- a village in Lebanon bordering Syria. Severe weather conditions and freezing temperatures characterised their winter days. Their tent did not serve as a warm shelter due to the absence of heating appliances, and their children were constantly suffering from a respiratory tract infections.
Two years ago, they moved to an ITS in Minieh in northern Lebanon. Lina asserted that it lacks appropriate sanitation; shared with 50 other people, the makeshift bathroom is made of weak wooden structures covered with blue nylon. However, the family are grateful to have a roof over their heads. Their small tent is decorated with ribbons that their 7-year-old daughter made using paper.
“She dreams of becoming a well-known artist”, Adnan said with a big smile while four-year-old Amal sits and admires the decorations made by her big sister.
For children like Amal who are born in hosting countries, acquiring the legal documentation is a major concern. According to the UNHCR, about 70% of the 42,000 Syrian children born between 2011 and 2014 in Lebanon remain off the records. Adnan stated that the daily hardships of life kept him, like many other fathers, from registering his new born child.
“The registration process is very complicated, it requires money and a set of documents that I should get from Syria, yet I cannot go back. My heart aches when I think of Amal’s situation.”
Similar to many Syrians in Lebanon, Adnan finds it difficult to find a job and provide for his family. Sometimes he gets hired to work in nearby orchards, which is often low paid, while Lina sells clothes in the ITS. Today, Adnan’s goal is to make sure he and his family survive, and with both their incomes, they are making it possible.
“Life has knocked me down. We haven’t celebrated any occasion since we came here”, says Adnan. His only wish is to register his daughter so she can enjoy her basic rights when she grows up, “and after that I will be fine”, he says, “I want to feel again that I deserve to be called a dad.”