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Safeguarding evidence of housing, land and property rights of Syrian refugees

Distribution of certificates by UN-Habitat in Domiz Camp, Iraq.

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Since 2020, UN-Habitat and the Global Land Tool Network have been working in Lebanon and Iraq to improve the land tenure security and safeguard the housing, land and property rights of Syrian refugees therein displaced.

Using a land and property recordation tool, the intervention documents Syrian refugees’ claims to their residential and non-residential properties in Syria. This is done through a rigorous participatory and voluntary enumeration process, at no fee for the beneficiaries. Available evidence to support the claims is also collected and stored for safekeeping.

Refugees are informed about the scope of the project and about how data is collected, handled and stored in accordance with the data protection protocol developed for this project. Refugee can opt out of the process at any time during the enumeration.

The claims documented include full ownership, joint ownership, long- and short-term use rights. A wide range of legally recognized and additional types of evidence are accepted and safeguarded, as well as supporting personal documentation. The information collected is safely stored in dedicated data units of UN-Habitat, accessible to authorized personnel only. Changes taking place after the date of claim registration are not recorded.

Verification of the housing, land and property rights claimed by the claimant is not undertaken. There is no adjudication of the ownership of the properties included in the enumeration, nor property documents are issued as a result of this project.

As part of the project, ‘Certificates of Collection and Safeguarding of Tenure Relationship Documents’ are issued by UN-Habitat. The certificates are not a proof of ownership but testify the adopted due process through which the claimant submitted his/her claim to the properties described in the certificate and the related supporting evidence. Certificates are handed over to the claimants at no fee and can be used by the beneficiaries to retrieve information about their properties and the supporting evidence enclosed.

This project is designed to support future efforts to re-possess properties illegally occupied, transacted or destroyed or to claim compensation. The participation in the project does not have any consequence on the beneficiaries’ status in the country or residence nor to their return to Syria.

How are certificates issued?

STEP 1: Field Interviews

Enumerators from UN-Habitat or its implementing partners conduct interviews with Syrian refugees  currently displaced in Lebanon and Iraq and fill in the questionnaire using mobile tablets. The interviews are carried out through a voluntary and participatory process: refugees are informed about the scope of the project and about how data is collected, handled and stored in accordance with the data protection protocol developed for the project. The full data protection protocol is available for viewing to beneficiaries upon their request. The respondents can choose not to proceed with the enumeration at any point of the data collection process. The data collected include a wide range of tenure rights and supporting documents.

In Iraq, enumerators conduct the data collection through door-to-door interviews. In Lebanon, Syrian refugees are invited to submit their claim at the community centres established by UN-Habitat for this project. For more information on the location of these community centres please refer to the contact information provided below.

STEP2: Data archiving

Digital copies of the information and evidence collected during the interviews are stored with UN-Habitat which is the data custodian for this project. Changes taking place after the date of claim registration are not recorded and a verification of the housing, land and property rights claimed by the claimants is not undertaken.

STEP 3: Issuing the certificates

Certificates of Collection and Safeguarding of Tenure Relationship Documents are issued and signed by UN-Habitat. Certificates testify the adopted due process through which the claimant documented his/her claim to the tenure relationship described in the document and the provision of supporting evidence. The certificates are not a proof of ownership. They are designed to help the claimant and his/her household to safely store his/her housing, land and property claims and supporting evidence in case of loss of these documents.

STEP 4: Delivery of certificates

Enumerators from UN-Habitat or its implementing partners hand over the certificates to the claimants at no fee through door-to-door visits, at the established UN-Habitat community centres, or in batches during specifically organized events. For more information on the location of UN-Habitat community centres in Lebanon and Iraq please refer to the contact information provided below.

Know your rights

The project team adopts a rigorous do-no-harm approach and ensures an inclusive and transparent process from the beginning of the project until the last phase. Any willing member of the identified communities can record his/her housing, land and property rights and claims to their properties in Syria – either individually, or as member of a household. The respondent can choose not to proceed with the process at any point of the data collection process. Concerns can be raised at any point with the field team. The Data Protection Protocol, which details the rights of the respondents, and the way data is collected and managed, is presented to the respondents before the start of the enumeration and it is available to be consulted upon request by requesting it from the field team.

About UN-Habitat

UN-Habitat is the agency of the United Nations working towards sustainable urbanization. It promotes socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements and adequate shelter for all.  UN-Habitat has extensive country presence in the Arab states. Its country offices are located in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.  For more information about UN-Habitat, please visit: www.unhabitat.org.

The Global Land Tool Network (GLTN), hosted by UN-Habitat, is an alliance of international organizations committed to increasing access to land and tenure security for all, with special focus on the most vulnerable. GLTN works in close collaboration with UN-Habitat regional and country offices on themes related to land governance; land administration; housing, land and property rights; and land policy reforms. For more information about the Global Land Tool Network, please visit: www.gltn.net.

At the regional level, UN-Habitat and GLTN manage the Arab Land Initiative, which focuses on improving good land governance and tenure security in the Arab region. For more information, visit https://arabstates.gltn.net/

Further information

For further information, please download the Community brochure Lebanon (AR) or the Community brochure Iraq (AR), or contact the UN-Habitat office in Iraq or Lebanon.

UN-Habitat Iraq

Website: www.unhabitat.org/iraq

Email:  info.iraq@unhabitat.org

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @UNHabitatIraq

UN-Habitat Lebanon

Website: www.unhabitat.org/lebanon

Email: unhabitat-lebanon@un.org

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @UNHabitatLB

 

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