Rights groups have argued that this an attempt to boost the government’s economic standing, while others have indicated fears of demographic shifts in the country

Aerial Photo of Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, 2013

Aerial Photo of Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, 2013 Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State

At the beginning of April, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad signed a new Absentee Property Law, otherwise known as Decree Number 10, which required property owners to register their holdings with the government within 30 days or risk confiscation. As the deadline approaches, concerns have been raised about the inability of Syrians who’ve had to flee their homes to register, and thus risk losing their properties altogether.

As Syria’s civil war rages on, many parts of the country face extreme abandonment, as almost 12 million Syrians have been displaced. Consequently, human rights groups have raised concerns that the Syrian government is attempting to compensate for economic losses accumulating throughout the conflict by allowing space for new investment. In the past, rebel groups have accused the government of attempting to change demographics within the country by resettling members of different religious communities throughout Syria.

A statement by a group termed the Syrian Free Legalists stated that the new law did not allow anyone outside of Syria to send a proxy to register on their behalf. Rather, Syrians would have to go through security checkpoints and interact with pro-government officials in order to get their approval. The government has not issued a media statement about the law through official sources.