JEDDAH: Ibrahim Naffee
Published — Tuesday 25 February 2014
Last update 26 February 2014 5:50 am
Local human rights organizations are demanding that government agencies track down the Saudi biological fathers of children born to Syrian women who have since become refugees in Jordan and Turkey in the wake of the Syrian civil war.
These citizens-turned-refugees have no documents to prove that they are Saudi nationals.
“Many Saudis visited Syria before the Syrian revolution and married Syrian women, with whom they had children. These children were abandoned by their fathers and now face uncertain future after the war in Syria,” said Mohammed Al-Turkawi, a member of the Syrian opposition living in Jeddah. “These families should contact the Saudi embassies in Jordan and Turkey to find solutions.”
“There are no accurate figures on the number of undocumented Saudis living in Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey,” Al-Turkawi told Arab News. A local newspaper reported that the Saudi Embassy in Amman confirmed that it was taking care of local Saudi refugees.
According to the report, the embassy pays monthly sums to 26 Saudi families in Jordan and ensures that they are sheltered. The report also states that they are looking for their fathers with the cooperation of several Kingdom-based organizations.
Yet many of these men deny ever having been married.
“It is a shame to know that there are Saudis out there who have been abandoned by their fathers and who have no choice but to live with their mothers at these refugee camps,” said Suhaila Zain Al-Abdeen, a female Saudi member of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR).
Local governmental bodies must look for their fathers and help this category of citizens return home.”
“This issue has still not come up in NSHR meetings. However, we know of local societies who have adopted the cause,” she told Arab News.
Kahlid Al-Fakheri, a member of the Human Rights Commission, told Arab News, “The commission follows up on Saudi families living in Jordan and coordinates with the Saudi Charitable Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad (Awaser).”
Jordan is home to more than 1.5 million Syrians, less than half of whom are registered as UN refugees living in several refugee camps subsidized by United Nations agencies and donor countries in the country’s northern provinces.
Other refugees are living off their own resources and are contributing to the national economy.
While some view the Syrian refugee crisis as a burden on the country’s infrastructure and scarce natural resources, such as water, many Jordanian commercial and industrial representatives regard the refugee phenomenon as the driving force behind new local economic opportunities.