Syrians abandon babies at mosques and under trees


One cold winter night, Syrian Ibrahim Othman went out to pray and came home cradling a baby girl, abandoned at the doorstep of the village mosque just hours after she was born.

"I took her home and told my wife, 'I brought you a gift,'" said the 59-year-old resident of Hazano, in rebel-held northwest Syria.

He named the baby Hibatullah, meaning "gift of God", and decided to raise her as one of the family.

Officials say babies are being left outside mosques, hospitals and even under olive trees in war-torn Syria as more than 12 years of grinding conflict fuel poverty and desperation.

"Only a few cases of child abandonment" were officially documented before the war broke out in 2011, according to the Washington-based group Syrians for Truth and Justice, which records human rights abuses in the country.

But between early 2021 and late 2022, more than 100 children -- 62 of them girls -- were found abandoned across the country, it said in a March report, estimating the real figure to 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.

It pointed to factors including poverty, instability, insecurity and child marriage, along with sexual abuse and pregnancy out of wedlock.

While adoption is forbidden across Syria, Othman has asked the local authorities for permission to raise Hibatullah.

"I told my children that if I die, she should have part of my inheritance," even though she can never officially be part of the family, he said, breaking into tears.

The three-year-old, her hair pulled back loosely into pigtails and tottering around in shiny pink sandals, now calls him "grandpa".

"She is just an innocent child," Othman said.

- 'Victims' -

Syria's war has killed more than 500,000 people, displaced millions and ravaged the country's infrastructure.

Health department official Zaher Hajjo told AFP that 53 abandoned newborn babies had been registered in government-controlled areas in the first 10 months of last year -- 28 boys and 25 girls.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad this year issued a decree creating dedicated facilities for the children, who would be automatically registered as Arab, Syrian and Muslim, with the place of birth as the location they were found.

In rebel-held Idlib province, social workers at the main center for abandoned children tended to tiny babies wrapped tightly in blankets in basic cradles, some spruced up with purple paint or ribbons.

In the bare-walled room with a brown-and-beige carpet, one woman rocked a baby to sleep with one hand while feeding another milk with the other.

Faisal al-Hammoud, head of programmes at the centre, said one baby girl they took in was found under an olive tree after being mauled by a cat.

"Blood was dripping down her face," he said, adding that the orphanage had since entrusted her to a family.

Workers follow up to make sure such babies are well treated and "that there is no child trafficking", Hammoud added.

The centre has taken in 26 babies -- 14 girls and 12 boys -- since it opened in 2019, and nine this year alone, said Abdullah Abdullah, a civil affairs official with Idlib's rebel authorities.

More than four million people live in areas controlled by jihadists and Turkish-backed groups in Syria's north and northwest, 90 percent of whom depend on aid to survive.

"The war is to blame and families too" for child abandonments, Abdullah said.

"These children are victims," he added.

Comments 13
Thumb chrisrushlau 25 May 2023, 19:28

France has offered to send its military to Syria to bring "life-giving salvation", and he will be available after June first of next year for a limited stay, said France's Ministry of Military Confusion. AFP says the military is not happy with the plan, calling the Ministry "not the last word on the matter".

Thumb abe.linconstein 25 May 2023, 22:01

Little known fact. Baby chrisrushlau's parents tried to abandon it at churches, convents, nunneries, under trees, in mailboxes, next to rocks and on park benches but all the people who found it kept bringing him back. They didn't want him either. That's how he acquired the nickname "the boomerang". After learning that having an abortion after the baby is born is considered murder, chrisrushlau's parents had no choice but to keep it. That's how it became their burden to bare. Everyone else also suffered the consequences.

Thumb chrisrushlau 26 May 2023, 01:36


Thumb abe.linconstein 26 May 2023, 15:36

LOL why? What did I do wrong? I'm not the one who tried to abandon baby chrisrushlau like those babies in Syria were abandoned, it's parents did. In any case I'd rather be a coward than a callous psychopath. Not wise cracking anymore when it hits home, are we? Who knew you have such a thin skin LOL.
Did you hear the one when Baby chrisrushlau's parents went to the local Humane Society allegedly to adopt an abandoned dog. They left baby chrisrushlau, took a dog. Two hours later a Humane Society official brought back baby chrisrushlau and took back the dog. She said "there is nothing humane about what they tried to do to us".

Thumb chrisrushlau 26 May 2023, 18:41

He knows how to spell "callous".

Thumb chrisrushlau 27 May 2023, 18:38

Better get out of the frying pan. I think you're done.

Thumb abe.linconstein 28 May 2023, 16:30

To paraphrase Winston Churchill: "Never in the field of human discussion did one man comment so much about something he knew so little about."

Thumb chrisrushlau 27 May 2023, 18:42

From: Chomsky, Noam - (noamchomsky) <>
Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2020 1:12 AM
To: Chris Rushlau <>
Subject: Re: [EXT]You said in an interview maybe ten years ago that Shias were more than half of Lebanon's population. Do you stand by that claim?

I doubt that I said that. Could you send me the source.

No one knows, because of the need to avoid disrupting the delicate confessional system left by the French. It's commonly assumed that Shia are the largest group

Thumb chrisrushlau 27 May 2023, 18:44

So it looks like I'm wrong here. No, what I probably heard is that Hezbullah's being the largest party, assuming mass allegiance of Shias, makes it the government former, in the standard parliamentary practice. "Forming a government" means getting together a coalition. I stretched that into a majority, my mind being very deceitful when I let it go.
So I'm sorry.

Thumb abe.linconstein 28 May 2023, 16:22

Wait what?! So all those post of yours where based on false data and "ass sumption"? How many time were you told this fact, but your boneheaded nature could not handle the truth. You needed your claim about Chomsky for your hateful racist narrative to work. Lebanon is a nation of minorities, Muslims are the majority, no sect holds a majority. If you'd bothered to lean anything about Lebanon, maybe by checking the number and sectarian makeup of electors, you'd spared yourself looking foolish and ignorant. My advise when commenting on a subject, is listen to the local. They will give you the facts and they are less deceitful and less prone to inventing quotes than your mind does. Unless you mean to be deceitful.

Thumb chrisrushlau 29 May 2023, 20:32

You may not know that Lebanon's constitution reserves half of parliamentary seats to "Christians". Article 24. With 30% of the population, it explains Lebanon's paralysis and the NATO attitude toward it. But KSA and Iran ganging up makes you worry. I mean you in particular.

Thumb abe.linconstein 30 May 2023, 18:31

HAHA insisting on the same faulty conclusion but now the trying to build a new narrative around it. "KSA and Iran ganging up" LOL! That's so funny one gets the urge to lob a shoe at your head. But that would be a blatant insult to the shoe. First, you story was all about the disenfranchising of the "Shias majority". When that claim, like most of your claims, turned out to be a fairytale spun by your deceitful mind, you try to fit new lyrics to the same old tune that's out of key. Poor ignorant boneheaded fool. Sillier even, you waited two day to try and sneak in the last word and all you come up with is this!! You must illiterate because Article 24 of the Lebanese constitution does not "reserves half of parliamentary seats to Christians". Get someone who can read properly read it for you and slowly explain what it mean. Maybe ask Chomsky. Nah. Your deceitful mind will probably misunderstand what he tells you, again!

Thumb chrisrushlau 27 May 2023, 19:02

by Tala Ramadan Source: Annahar Date added: 29 July 2019 Last update: 30 July 2019 | 20:00
BEIRUT: The number of Lebanese nationals has increased by 426%, with nearly 4.4 million new people born since 1932, bringing the current total to around 5.5 million, according to a recent report. The increase is around 174.5% for Christians and 785.1% for Muslims.

The latest official census conducted in 1932 indicated that the Lebanese population totaled 875,252 people, while Muslims made up 40% of the community and Christians 58.7%. The recent report shows that Christians make up 30.6% of the community, while Muslims make up 69.4%.