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No papers, no future

If a child is home alone, and no one is there to hear her cry, does she really exist? In the case of Leen Omar, the three-year-old girl with no identity, the answer seems to be no.

If a child is home alone, and no one is there to hear her cry, does she really exist? In the case of Leen Omar, the three-year-old girl with no identity, the answer seems to be no.

Leen is the daughter of a Jordanian father and a Syrian mother -both of Palestinian origin. As we reported yesterday, she exists only as a name on a certificate. With her parents divorced, her father abandoning the family and her mother unable to provide her with a passport, Leen is the victim of a bureaucratic Catch-22. In a legal sense, she is, as her mother says, "nonexistent".

So what are her options? For now, it seems, there are none. As her father had already absconded, any help from his family in Jordan regarding paperwork is extremely unlikely. With no official identification papers, the child is not allowed to leave the country, so even a return to Syria is not possible. Her mother, who earns Dh4,000 a month, has no choice but to occasionally lock her up at home while she's at work.

Perhaps most damaging of all, at the age of three, Leen is unable to register for nursery school. Surely, a child's future should not be destroyed because of paperwork. It goes without saying that official documentation serves an important purpose, but common sense should prevail in this case. Leen, and many others like her, deserve a better future than the one they are fated to inherit simply because of red tape.

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