Syrian children without identification cards in Turkey

People who suffer the most are those who marry recently and do not have a Syrian family record (Enab Baladi)

People who suffer the most are those who marry recently and do not have a Syrian family record (Enab Baladi)


Enab Baladi – Reem Hamoud

“I used the temporary protection card (kimlik) of other children to treat my children in government hospitals,” said Syrian refugee Nour, a mother of three, explaining to Enab Baladi one of the risky solutions she had to follow, justified by the absence of legal documents allowing her children to stay in Turkey and access government institutions, as they are not covered by the temporary protection law established for Syrian refugees in Turkey since April 2014.

Nour’s children (who preferred to remain anonymous due to security concerns) range between nine months and five years old, but they are not the only ones born in Turkey years ago who are still without identity cards.

Enab Baladi recorded stories of other Syrians facing similar challenges to Nour, who are dealing with multiple issues due to the absence of the kimlik, affecting the lives of their children and families, as they are unaware of the procedures required to obtain the card for their children.

Deprivation of childhood rights

The absence of kimlik has created multiple problems, the most prominent being depriving children of their natural rights to access education, healthcare, play, and integration into society. These problems were similar among most Syrian families who communicated with Enab Baladi during the preparation of the report.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child has the right to their identity, and no one should deprive children of it. If deprived, governments must help them regain it and ensure their access to education and the best health care.

In light of the official document crisis faced by Syrians in Turkey, the families interviewed by Enab Baladi said that the high costs of medical consultations in private clinics or health centers forced them to resort to illegal methods. Among them is the refugee Nour, who, despite knowing that borrowing another child’s kimlik is prohibited, was driven by her family’s poor financial situation to this option a year ago.

Hiba (27 years old) found Syrian health centers, which provide services at “high prices,” as she described, an alternative to Turkish hospitals and centers that require Syrian refugees to have kimlik for treatment.

Hiba, from the Syrian capital Damascus (who also preferred to remain anonymous due to security concerns), said that the cost of medical consultation and tests amounts to 1,500 Turkish liras (45 US dollars) each time she takes her child for treatment.

These costs put the family under economic pressure, but there is no other solution for them. Hiba’s child is one and a half years old and suffers from “allergic asthma,” requiring continuous follow-up, according to Hiba, who entered Turkey in 2020.

How will I educate my child?

Turkey requires families to provide the child’s identification papers when enrolling them in public schools, whether they are refugees or citizens. This is a fundamental requirement, and in their absence, the child cannot enroll in school.

This problem was not lost on Nour from Aleppo, as she visited several Syrian and Turkish kindergartens in recent months to enroll her five-year-old child, each time being asked for the kimlik as a condition for acceptance, which shocked the family, leaving them with no option other than private schools.

After failing to find an affordable private kindergarten, the family decided to delay the enrollment and save money to enroll the child in the first grade next year, relying on her husband’s monthly salary, which does not exceed the minimum wage in Turkey, while the semester tuition fees amount to 16,000 Turkish liras, according to Nour.

Nour’s family, residing in Istanbul, found a temporary solution for the child’s educational future. However, this did not work for Bara’a, who has been seeking for months to find a private school for her six-year-old child at a reasonable cost for the family.

Bara’a (24 years old) wondered how to grant her child the right to education like other children, raising questions during her conversation with Enab Baladi, “How will I educate my child in these living conditions? Is there an alternative solution to private sector?”

Bara’a is from Soran city in Hama province and came to Turkey to marry a man from her city in 2018. Turkey stopped granting kimlik to Syrians coming after her entry, leaving her and her child without kimlik until now, according to her.

There is no official statistics on the number of Syrian children dropping out of school who are not under the temporary protection system, as there is no data on them with the state.

At the same time, a Turkish government statistic revealed on January 17, 2023, that about one-third of Syrian children of school age are dropping out of schools without stating the reasons. However, mentioning the cases of “bullying” they face in educational institutions, as stated by the General Secretary of the Teachers’ Union in Turkey, Latif Salfi, at the beginning of 2023, from 65% to 70% of school-aged Syrian children received their education in Turkey.

“Open prison”

Those interviewed by Enab Baladi confirmed that their fear of deportation increases every night, especially with the security restrictions accompanying Syrian refugees in Turkey since July 2023, and the escalating political rhetoric against their presence in the country.

This fear has impacted the lives of children and families. Young Bara’a moved to Bursa city since the earthquake in February 2023, which hit southern Turkey and affected 11 provinces and several Syrian cities, restricting her movement more than in Hatay city, where she previously resided. She described the scene as an “open prison,” remaining within it with her child without any documents proving their identities in Turkey.

Bara’a and her child’s visit to the children’s park, amusement park, or market is a “rare event,” with the increase in Turkish police patrols checking the documents of passersby, depriving her child from feeling like other children who can play and have fun, according to the young woman.

The Turkish Migration Management defined the temporary protection law under which Syrians live in Turkey legally, as a form of “protection,” developed by Turkey to find immediate solutions in cases of mass refugee influx.

Child integration into society

The absence of official documents and the family’s fear for the safety of their children from deportation, as explained by social researcher Wadha al-Othman to Enab Baladi, will have clear effects on the child, making him deprived of integrating into the surrounding society.

Al-Othman explained that awareness in children does not come in the early stages of life. It starts when the child understands the meaning of official documents or when they enter school and feel different from others. Before that, the impact of not possessing identity papers reflects on the child’s family.


“When a child becomes aware that they have no identity documents, feelings of anxiety and fear increase, which can reflect on their personality, as the discomfort may turn those feelings into aggression.”

Wadha al-Othman, Social Researcher


Solutions to register children

The three families who spoke with Enab Baladi confirmed that they did not obtain a Syrian family record for unclear reasons. Some were not fully aware of the necessary procedures to obtain it, while others considered it an unnecessary step since they have been living outside the country for years.

Director of Communications at the Syrian-Turkish Joint Committee, Enas al-Najjar, told Enab Baladi that at the beginning of stopping the issuance of the temporary protection card in 2018, the Turkish Presidency of Migration Management allowed families residing in Istanbul, where some members did not have kimlik, the option to register their fingerprints in another state and then apply for a family reunification request for transfer to the same state to regularize the status of all members.

After a short period, the Migration Management stopped this method and started monitoring families within special camps for Syrians to assess whether their cases warranted receiving “protection,” according to al-Najjar.

Al-Najjar explained to Enab Baladi that those who suffer the most are the newly married individuals without a Syrian family record who do not wish to go to the Syrian consulate to obtain it, leading to a lack of proof of the marriage, especially if the woman did not have the temporary protection card.

The Syrian-Turkish Joint Committee proposed a solution to the Turkish Presidency of Migration Management for granting Syrian children kimlik for their registration, which the Migration Management agreed to and began implementing recently, according to al-Najjar.

The first step in the process is for the husband to register his child at the Turkish Migration Management, after which the Migration Management withdraws the kimlik from him and grants a preliminary document to the Syrian mother for about two months, enabling her to register the marriage in court and complete the children’s registration. Following this, they receive the temporary protection card, and the husband regains his kimlik without any problems.

Al-Najjar pointed out during her conversation with Enab Baladi that if the family does not register the marriage during the document period granted to the wife, its validity is canceled without issuing her the kimlik upon which the children’s temporary protection cards were to be based.


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