By International Social Service, the Global Social Work Organization
ISS - 100 Years : The story of 7 Syrian siblings, left behind unaccompanied in Lebanon

The story of 7 Syrian siblings, left behind unaccompanied in Lebanon

In 2018, a Syrian mother and father fled illegally to Germany through Turkey leaving their 7 children in Lebanon in the care of the older brother of 19 years old.

The brother was not allowed to work in the community they were living in, so he left for another city. The 7 children were left behind and unaccompanied, in a small room inside a public school building. The room was certainly not suitable for living as it did not have a kitchen and the bathroom was outside. All children attended school in the afternoon and in exchange for their education fees, they had to clean the school in the morning.  The 16-year-old was in charge of cooking for the family. As food was not sufficient, the children searched for it in the rubbish, being at risk of being evicted as their stay at school was illegal.

The fate of the 7 children came to the attention of ISS Lebanon Himaya who carried out a home visit to assess the living conditions and protection needs of the children. Given that the children were Syrian refugees, Himaya requested cash assistance from the UNHCR to make sure the basic needs of the children could be met.

As there were no emergency shelters available where the 7 children could move to, Himaya negotiated with the director of the school to keep the children there until a safe place was secured. They also ensured regular virtual contact with the parents. Fortunately, Himaya could finally settle the family in a safer place and reunite with the older sibling.

Himaya then approached the UNHCR to start a Best Interest Procedure implemented for individual children at risk who are in need of targeted, structured, systematic, sustained and coordinated support. It ensures that decisions are made in the best interests of the child. UNHCR advised for family reunification of the children with their parents in Germany. Himaya consequently coordinated with the German embassy in Beirut to help facilitate the reunification process. Himaya also supported the judicial process that resulted in the older brother being appointed as legal guardian and the securement of passports and visas for all children.

Thanks to close collaboration with ISS Germany, the German embassy, the judicial pathway and international partners, and the invaluable efforts of the operational team on this challenging case, ISS-Lebanon Himaya was able to successfully reunite 7 children with their parents in Germany.

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ISS is present in more than 120 countries, constituting a well-connected network of NGOs, authorities and private social work practices. The ISS global network is coordinated by the ISS General Secretariat in Geneva.
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