A picture of Khaled, who drowned off the coast of Lebanon while attempting to reach Cyprus with his family. (Photo provided by the Nijmeh family)
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On the 40th day after 5-year-old Khaled Nijmeh drowned in the sea, his family gathered around his grave, an earthen plot decorated with cloth roses and living vines at a Palestinian cemetery in northern Lebanon's Beddawi refugee camp.The Palestinian cemetery was not the resting place the family had wanted for Khaled. The child's paternal grandmother, Dalal al-Masri, is Lebanese, but her husband is Syrian. Because Lebanese citizenship can be passed down only by the father, Nijmeh, and therefore his children, are not eligible to be Lebanese citizens, even though he was raised in the country.Khaled's mother is Palestinian, from the Nahr al-Bared camp.Had Khaled been Lebanese, it would have been a simple matter he could have been buried in the town of Beddawi's municipal cemetery below the camp, where members of Masri's family are interred.If the family had the means, Nijmeh said, perhaps it could have bought a private grave plot elsewhere, but all its meager resources had been spent on the ill-fated sea journey. After two days of searching, the family was able to secure a plot in a cemetery inside the Beddawi camp, Nijmeh said.
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