The International Observatory on Statelessness


Kurds and Palestinians are stateless in Syria.

The government discriminates against stateless persons, who represent a portion of the larger Kurdish minority and presently number approximately 300,000. Some have received red identity documents preventing them from voting, owning land, practicing certain professions, receiving food subsidies and public healthcare, being admitted to public hospitals, or having legally recognized marriages to Syrian citizens. Children or grandchildren may have no documents at all. Despite repeated promises made by the Syrian president to resolve the Kurdish issue, most recently in 2007, no progress has been made.

In Syria, nearly 400,000 Palestinian refugees are not eligible for citizenship, though they can work and have access to government services. Most of these individuals are registered and receive support from UNRWA. Stateless Palestinians who fled Iraq live illegally in Damascus (approximately 4,000) or reside in UNHCR camps, one of which is in Syrian territory, another in the no-man’s land between the Syrian and Iraqi borders, and a third on Iraqi territory close to the border. The total population of the three camps is approximately 3,000.