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 14
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 26 May 2023, 18:42

Or she.

Thumb abe.linconstein 26 May 2023, 21:38

He him, she shim.

Thumb abe.linconstein 27 May 2023, 18:25

Do I need to also remind you of Noam Chomsky's opinion that the noon is made of cheese. Yes and I got the evidence of this as you obviously got the evidence that he said that "more than half of all Lebanese are Shia Muslims". I'll show you mine if you show me yours. Get your mind out of the gutter pervert, you know what I mean. The silly part of this whole thing is that you constantly use Wikipedia to support your argument. But when it comes to the sectarian demography of Lebanon you stick your head in the sand and pretend not to know. I suppose the parent of baby chrisrushlau where on to something with their multiple abandoning attempts, too bad they failed.

Thumb abe.linconstein 26 May 2023, 21:37

Suggested readings:'s%20an%20easy%20mistake%20to,area%20on%20skin%20or%20bark.%E2%80%9D
If you are having an issue with the text maybe you should ask a linguist. But, who can you ask, gosh darn golly gee who can you ask? Humm. Wait don't go, I've got it! Why not ask Professor Noam Chomsky, is he still a linguist or now just a senile old Marxist who's brought out by despots and "freedom fighters"* to pop out at their political rallies like a stripper pops out of a giant cake at a bachelor party.

*Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? - George Carlin.

Thumb chrisrushlau 26 May 2023, 23:54

You're reminding us of Noam Chomsky's opinion that more than half of all Lebanese are Shia Muslims, making Article 24 of the Lebanese Constitution which reserves half of legislative seats for Christians the crux of Lebanon's problems.

Thumb chrisrushlau 27 May 2023, 18:38

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

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 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%.