Argentina: how does the Syria Program work?

The program designed to welcome people fleeing the crisis in the Arab country has been renewed for the fourth time

Argentina: how does the Syria Program work?

In the middle of the last century, and largely as a result of the world wars, the legal framework was born that allows the adoption of measures related to refugees and asylees in the present. For example, documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Status of Refugees of 1951 emerged, which provide the possibility that any person in any country in the world, if they feel fear for their verifiable life, could ask protection to another State Party.

These frameworks were applied by the second government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner together with different organizations, institutions and associations in the country. Thus, the Argentine government followed the footsteps of Uruguay and created a humanitarian visa program to receive citizens affected by the civil war in Syria, in response to calls from international organizations to help with the crisis of displaced people caused by the conflict. This was done through the National Directorate of Migration, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship, since a Special Humanitarian Visa Program was established for foreigners affected by the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic. By provision 3915/2014, in Buenos Aires, on October 14, 2014, the "Syrian Program" was implemented.

The Ministry of the Interior and Transport, through the aforementioned Provision, affirmed that the Syrian Program aims to provide a concrete response to the serious humanitarian crisis that continues to plague the Arab country and the emergency situation in which the refugee population finds itself. The Argentine government, which in the provision recalls the constant requests of the UN Refugee Agency to collaborate with the Syrian humanitarian crisis, joined the decision with other countries that already receive Syrian refugees, such as Germany, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Uruguay.

The Syrian Program considers the action of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other organizations of the United Nations (UN), as a precedent for its activity in order to face the problem and respond to the specific appeals of UNHCR to alleviate the situation. This is compounded by the fact that the Argentine Republic has an important community of Syrian-Lebanese with strong community ties, who are linked in Associations and Federations that have demonstrated on many occasions their solidarity towards those who suffer the consequences of the conflict of the Syrian Arab Republic and that they have expressed their interest in accompanying the process of reception, reception and integration of the beneficiaries of this Special Program.

The beneficiaries of the new program enjoy facilitation of entry into the Argentine Republic through the processing of entry permits and visas for humanitarian reasons, and are: people of Syrian nationality and relatives, regardless of their nationality; people of Palestinian nationality, habitual residents or who had resided in Syria and received assistance from the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Regarding the requirements, the beneficiaries must have:

  • current entry permit issued by the national migration office
  • valid and current travel document that can be processed with assistance from UNHCR, UNRWA, ICRC
  • certificate of lack of criminal record of country of origin or habitual residence
  • sworn declaration of lack of criminal record subscribed by the beneficiaries
  • Documentation of accreditation of family ties when appropriate
  • go through an interview by the corresponding diplomatic official to verify all the documentation, in addition to particular requirements.

Finally, the Program is valid for one year and may be extended at the discretion of the migration authority, as long as the situation of armed conflict and the humanitarian emergency prevailing in Syria persist. The government of Mauricio Macri has extended the validity of this Program annually to date. The commitments for the year 2018 have to do with the support of the private sector and a strengthening of the institutional relations in charge of making the Program effective.


Latin American Post | Antonella Giordano

Copy edited by Laura Rocha Rueda

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