WASHINGTON – Poverty and desperation are forcing several Syrians to abandon their babies outside mosques, hospitals, and even under olive trees.
According to the Washington-based group Syrians for Truth and Justice, more than 100 children — 62 of them girls — were abandoned across the country between early 2021 and late 2022.
According to the group, the actual number could be much higher.
“The numbers have increased dramatically” since the start of the conflict along with “the social and economic repercussions of the war” affecting both government-controlled and rebel-held areas, the group said.
The war in Syria has killed more than 500,000 people, displaced millions, and devastated the country’s infrastructure.
Health Ministry official Zaher Hajjo told the French news agency AFP that 53 abandoned newborns were registered in government-controlled areas in the first 10 months of last year.
Among them were 28 boys and 25 girls.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree this year to create special facilities for the children. They are automatically registered as Arab, Syrian, and Muslim, with the place of birth being the place where they were found.
In opposition-controlled Idlib province, Faisal Al-Hammoud, head of a center, said a girl taken in was found under an olive tree after being mauled by a cat.
The center has taken in 26 babies – 14 girls and 12 boys – since it opened in 2019.
The French news agency has documented the story of the little girl Hibatullah, who was found abandoned by Ibrahim Othman at the door of the village mosque.
She was only a few hours old.
He took her home in Hazano, in opposition-controlled northwestern Syria.
Although adoption is banned throughout Syria, Othman has asked local authorities for permission to raise Hibatullah.
He has instructed his children to share the inheritance with her after his death.
The staff makes sure the babies are treated well and that there is no child trafficking.