The Autonomous Administration of Northeastern Syria occasionally emphasizes the demand for the expat card by giving instructions to its security and military checkpoints deployed in its areas of control, namely the SDF, to check the arrivals in these areas.
The expat card means persons who are registered in the civil registry of the districts in areas outside the Autonomous Administration control, and who wish to visit – or cross through – areas under their control in northeastern Syria, must obtain a card entitling them to enter and live in these areas. The card is obtained by institutions identified by the Autonomous Administration.
The expat card is not a new regulation, but it has been in operation since 2019. Security incidents in eastern Syria and poor living conditions that have forced hundreds of families to flee government control areas to those located east of the Euphrates River have pushed the Autonomous Administration towards emphasizing the need to gain it, according to the Administration statements.
One of the most important drawbacks on the expat card is that it does not differentiate between those coming to the eastern Euphrates areas, such as patients, students and others displaced for security reasons, except for asking families who have been living in Hasakah province for decades with the expat card only because their civil registry is based in areas that is not under the Autonomous Administration areas.
On 15 January 2022, the Autonomous Administration’s Internal Authority issued a statement on the purpose of the expat card, which stated that “for the sake of all residents of our areas enjoy security and safety and continue their lives in a normal manner, given that the sponsorship system established is to confirm the true identity of the person in order to ensure that they are not impersonated”, and confirmed that the followed procedures did not witness any deportation.
The Justice for Life organization in this report depended on the testimony of (7) people, all from Deir Ezzor, who had been registered in different civil registry departments in the governorate. The interviewees were interviewed in person or online; one of them lives in the Autonomous Administration held areas of Deir Ezzor countryside, two have been living in Hasakah governorate for decades, one has been displaced in Hasakah following the shelling of Deir Ezzor nine years ago, and one displaced from the Deir Ezzor countryside to Raqqa. All names are pseudonyms at the request of witnesses. The Justice for Life organization also held a two-day workshop in JFL Office and organized a webinar with 47 participants; all of them are civil society activists or independent activists from the governorates of Deir Ezzor, Al Hasakah, and Raqqa, discussing the reasons for imposing the expat card and its implications on civilians along with possible alternatives.