Complications mount in the return way of deported families from Turkey
Enab Baladi – Muhammed Fansa
“There is no solution for Tariq now but to return in an irregular manner, but the smugglers are asking for a sum of money that they are unable to secure,” Ahmed Rajab told Enab Baladi about his son’s condition, who was deported to Syria, while his pregnant wife and infant son remained inside Turkey, waiting for a way out from the ordeal.
Rajab lives in a rented house in northwestern Syria, while his son Tariq was deported from Turkey to Syria through the border crossings in northern Syria after he was “forced” to sign the “voluntary return” document.
The story of Tariq Rajab became famous after he was beaten and had his teeth broken by a security officer in Elbeyli camp in the Turkish state of Kilis, where he was being held, he said.
The Rajab family is considered one of the many families of Syrians in Turkey who are separated from their family members due to the deportation of the head of the family to northern Syria, amid the fact that their wives and children remain without a breadwinner, while the legal documents required by the Turkish border crossings upon their return to Syria increase their suffering in family reunification.
No escape from returning
The choice of Tariq’s family to return to Syria did not stem from the luxury of the available options.
Rather, his father, Ahmed, said that the numerous requests to collect his son’s rights by appealing to human rights organizations to take action or to secure humanitarian aid for his wife and child, who became without a breadwinner, were of no avail.
Due to the lack of options for assistance and the possibility of Tariq’s return to his family in Turkey, the family decided to start the “voluntary return” procedures and go to the state of Antakya.
At the Turkish Cilvegözü crossing opposite the Bab al-Hawa crossing in Idlib, the authorities prevented the child from returning to Syria, and only allowed his mother, because he did not have identification papers except for a birth certificate from the Turkish hospital, and his mother did not hold a temporary protection card (Kimlik).
The authorities demanded that the child be registered with the Turkish Civil Registry Department (Nüfus) to allow him to leave, and despite the mother’s attempt to register him, the civil registry employees demanded the presence of the father and mother.
They also stipulated that they possess Kimlik to perform the operation without taking into account that the father is deported and cannot come from Syria.
Until this moment, Tareq’s family had not found a solution to enter Syria other than securing the required amount for the smuggler to smuggle them, which makes life difficult for the family in light of its difficult economic conditions.
Youssef’s family, in turn, was able to return to Syria through the Kassab border crossing between Turkey and the coastal city of Latakia after legal difficulties related to the return of children without their parents.
A year ago, the family decided to “voluntarily return” to Syria through successive batches after the legal difficulties in Turkey for those trying to extract Kimlik for the first time, including having to register in a state where job opportunities are scarce and signing monthly for up to six months to prove staying in the state, which created a state of instability.
Youssef, who preferred not to reveal his full name for security reasons, explained to Enab Baladi the problem that began when the Turkish authorities requested at the Yayladağı crossing opposite the Kassab crossing to obtain a guardianship document for the daughter of his second wife, from her father residing in Damascus, despite the presence of her mother and the fact that she and her child did not have Kimlik.
After communicating with the father and obtaining the required paper and attesting it from the Syrian Consulate in Istanbul, the authorities allowed the child to leave with her family after suffering for several months until the procedures were completed.
This situation was repeated with Youssef’s relatives, as their child grandson, who was abandoned by his mother, was living with them after their son was killed in Syria, as they had to contact his mother in Damascus to send a guardianship document so that they could return him with them from the same crossing.
Waiting for ministerial decisions
After monitoring several complaints related to the aforementioned case, the Syrian-Turkish joint committee, after the end of the Turkish presidential elections, contacted the Presidency of Immigration in Ankara to find solutions for the families so that their answer would be to wait for the decisions of the new minister, the director of communication, Enas al-Najjar, told Enab Baladi.
The Syrian human rights activist and director of the Adalah Center for Refugee Rights in Istanbul, Ahmet Katie, followed this case with several families, with border crossings, and others.
Katie mentioned to Enab Baladi via email that the problem arises among families who apply for voluntary return and have children.
Katie explained that if the mother of the child owns a Kimlik, unlike her son, who was born in Turkey, she must obtain a Kimlik for him, which requires a paper birth document (doğum belgesi) issued by the Turkish Civil Registry.
However, some civil servants do not hand over this document in the event that the father is not present or the child does not own Kimlik, which is a mistake resulting from ignorance of the laws, according to Katie.
The father in northern Syria can go to one of the border crossings with Turkey from the Syrian side, and at the same time, his family is on the Turkish side, and sign a paper confirming his approval of the child’s exit from Turkey, and through direct communication between the two crossings’ administrations, the process of approval and permission for the family’s exit takes place, according to what the human rights activist monitored.
In the event that the child was born in Syria before entering Turkey, the parents are required, as an alternative to the Kimlik or “birth document,” to present a family book documented by the notary public to allow the child’s exit with his mother from the Turkish crossing.
As for the return of Syrians through Turkish airports or from the Kassab border crossing, the guardianship paper is exclusively requested from the father for the possibility of obtaining the paper from the notary public in the areas of the regime’s influence and then attesting it at the Syrian consulate, which is not available in the opposition-held areas of northern Syria.
The Syrians residing in northwest Syria, after their deportation from Turkey, suffer from a deteriorating living situation compared to their conditions during their stay in Turkey, and most of them are looking for job opportunities that balance the expenses of their families who remained in Turkey with the value of the income in Syria.
With the laws related to Syrian refugees in Turkey continuing to be periodically updated and the geographical scope available for Syrians to reside in Turkey narrowing, it has become necessary for Syrian families that their legal documents be issued by the same state.
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