Syrian refugees face the trauma of war and displacement and urgently need humanitarian assistance, such as food and shelter. However, large numbers of women and children refugees lack identification and, as a result, have trouble accessing these services through official channels.
Often, refugee women do not register their marriages and births in their new host countries, not knowing how important that can be.
To address this issue, MADRE and CUNY Law School have collaborated to design and publish a know-your-rights brochure, as an accessible comic strip, to educate refugees on the importance of birth and marriage registration and provide information on locally available resources.
Syrian grassroots groups and other on-the-ground partners have been distributing the brochure among refugee communities in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. The feedback from local partners has been positive, with people sharing that the comic strip format has been appealing and helpful to Syrian refugees.
As refugees, women in unregistered marriages and children without birth certificates face serious obstacles. Due to lack of awareness and scarce resources, refugees often neglect to register their marriages and the birth of their newborns with the official authorities in host countries. Most resort to marriage through religious ceremonies that provide no official documentation of the marital union. Absent marriage and birth certificates, women and children lose their legal rights under the law and are unable to access basic services. Children also risk becoming stateless in the host country, while women in unregistered marriages may be unable to establish the family’s identity. As result, women are offered no protection or support if their husbands die, disappear, abuse or abandon them.
The absence of identity documentation limits women and children’s access to basic services, including food, shelter, healthcare and education. Thanks to our simple but effective intervention – a visual know-your-rights guide – women receive the tools and information that they need to confront this threat.
The full list of brochures are as follows: