Damascus: Over 100 babies abandoned between 2021 and 2022
Syrian Center for Justice and Accountability data published, but the real numbers are most likely higher. One official estimates that 20 percent are born to "women who were sexually exploited or had extramarital affairs." Many are found in front of hospitals or mosques, but adoption is forbidden in Islam.
Damascus (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of Syrian children have been abandoned as a result of the country's 12-year war. According to the Syrian Justice and Accountability Center (SJAC), more than 100 infants were found in different regions of Syria between 2021 and 2022, but in all likelihood the numbers are much higher. The causes cited in the report are poverty, forced displacement or early marriage. A child protection official in Idlib estimated that 20 percent of cases of abandoned children are born to "women who were sexually blackmailed or had extramarital affairs."
According to a health department official in Damascus, writes Lebanese daily L'Orient-Le jour, 53 infants - 28 boys and 25 girls - found abandoned in Syrian regime-controlled areas were recorded in the first ten months of 2022. Babies picked up in parks, fields or even in a well, the Interior Ministry reported.
"The harsh conditions of the war have pushed people to abandon their children," recounted Abdallah Abdallah, a civil affairs official for rebel authorities in Idlib province. Since its establishment in 2019, the "Children's Home," Idlib's main orphanage, has taken in 26 infants, nine of them since the beginning of 2023.
For the center's director, Faisal al-Hamoud, one of the most dramatic moments was when in 2021 they found a baby girl under an olive tree with "a cat scratching her" and with "blood running down her face." The facility cared for the baby, who was then placed with a foster family. The "Children's Home" monitors the situation so that "there are no cases of child trafficking," al-Hamoud says. "They are victims of war," he continues.
The Syrian conflict, which arose more than 12 years ago from peaceful anti-government protests, has claimed nearly half a million lives and nearly half of Syrians are now refugees or internally displaced.
Many children are abandoned in front of mosques or hospitals, as in the case of Hibatullah, a little girl found by an imam in February 2020. She was adopted by Ibrahim Osman, 59, a resident of Hazano village in northwestern Syria.
"I brought her home and told my wife, 'I brought you a present,'" he recounted. After having Hibatullah (which means "Gift of God" in Arabic) examined by a doctor and certified that she was newborn, Ibrahim decided to raise her with his own children and grandchildren.
Since adoption is forbidden in Islam, he submitted a request for foster care to the local authorities in his region, under rebel control fighting the Damascus regime. Although Hibatullah, who is now three years old, does not appear on the family booklet, "I warned my children that if I were to die, she will have to inherit just like them," Ibrahim explained in a voice broken with emotion.