The Ministry of Local Administration in the Syrian Interim Government has adopted a unified form of the family register in the “liberated” areas. This procedure came as a response to many years of administrative chaos and dysfunction in all civil status transactions as many people have been losing their official papers throughout the seven years of revolution.
For the first time in years, people started getting a family register in the governorates of Daraa and Quneitra on Monday, November 13, from the Civil Status Directorate under the Interim Government in cooperation with the local council in each of the two governorates and the “Free” Lawyers Association.
The family register’s importance and the necessity to issue it lie in the fact that it is the only reliable identity document to resort to on census of families and because it is difficult to issue such documents from the Syrian regime’s establishments.
Mohammed al-Mudayeb, the minister of the Local Administration in the Interim Government, told Enab Baladi that the register has been distributed to people in all the governorates, stressing that, after Daraa, it would be distributed in Aleppo, Idlib and Ghouta, to cover all the “liberated” areas.
Daraa Starts Issuing the Register
The “Free” Daraa Governorate Council started issuing the family register for the people in Hauran and Quneitra for the first time since these areas went out of the Syrian regime’s control. There was an announcement about the process of issuing the register in the council’s headquarters in the city of Nawa.
In an interview with Enab Baladi, Ali al-Salkhadi, the head of the council, said that the register is an urgent need and one of the basic factors required for building the revolutionary administrative establishments, which the governorate’s council has been working to construct to “regulate the administrative domain at all levels”.
The head of the council also spoke of “thousands of recent marriages and divorces, as well as thousands of births,” insisting on the necessity to organize these processes and to include their details in the family registers, which derive their importance from the fact that thousands of people have lost their old documents in the shelling and the burned houses.
Daraa and Quneitra include nine centers under the Directorate of Civil Status, two of which are located in Swisah and Hiran in Quneitra. Daraa’s centers are located in Nawa, Tafas, Giza, Bosra and al-Hirak, as well as two centers under construction in Naima and Saida.
According to al-Salkhadi, some of these centers have been working for about two years now and others started working only a few months ago. “[In these centers], people register marriage, divorce and births. Personal status records are issued for free while a family register costs 3,000 Syrian pounds.”
Suleiman Al-Qarfan, the president of the “Free” Lawyers in Daraa governorate told Enab Baladi that the association was the first to take the initiative in 2014. The association called for opening Civil Status centers in the area, supported by the International Legal Aid Association, to be “the real and actual substitute for those affiliated to the Syrian regime.”
He pointed out that the adoption of the form from the Directorate General of Civil Affairs, affiliated to the Interior Ministry in the Interim Government, came after the agreement with all the centers operating in all the Syrian “liberated” areas.
The Family Register is Crucial
About the necessity to issue a family register, Hamza Abu Zeid, an official in “al-Helem” (Dream) Relief Organization, active in southern Syria, said that the family register “is important in relation to distributing aid. To obtain aid there is a condition; people should own the register, in case that the organization distributing it is keen on accuracy and avoiding corruption.”
Abu Zaid said that the lost or damaged old family registers prevented many residents from registering for relief rations. He said that during the past years married couples did not have family registers and avoided issuing them from the areas of the Syrian regime for fear of arrest.
According to the official, the adoption of the register must be followed by a generalization to all the organizations active in the region. A generalization that ensures that this register will be adopted as the new document instead of the one issued by the Syrian regime’s establishments, pointing to the idea that some organizations do not acknowledge the documents issued by the Interim Government.
He considered that the interaction of organizations with local councils affiliated to the Interim Government would facilitate the acknowledgment of the documents issued by it, including the new family register.