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A crisis exacerbated by the war… The return of the adoption debate to Syria after the high percentage of abandoned children


On a cold winter’s night, Syrian Ibrahim Othman went out to pray and came home cradling a baby girl, who was left at the doorstep of the village mosque hours after she was born.

“I took her home and told my wife I had brought her a gift,” said Othman, a resident of Hazano village in Idlib. He named the girl Hibat Allah, and decided to raise her as one of the family.

Officials say children are left outside mosques, hospitals and even under olive trees in war-torn Syria.

The war exacerbated the crisis

“Only a few cases of child abandonment” were officially documented before the war broke out in 2011, according to the Washington-based group STJ, 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, according to a report released in March, and she estimated the true number to be much higher.

The association said that “the numbers have increased dramatically” since the start of the conflict along with the “social and economic repercussions of the war” affecting both areas controlled by the regime and those outside its control.

While adoption is prohibited throughout Syria, Othman asked the local authorities for permission to adopt Hibatallah.

“I told my children that if I die, you must have part of my inheritance,” he said, tearfully, even though she could not officially be part of the family.

He added, “She is just an innocent child.”

“trafficking of children”

The war in Syria has killed more than 500,000 people, displaced millions and destroyed the country’s infrastructure.

Health Ministry official Zaher Hajjo told AFP that 53 newborn babies were registered in regime-held areas in the first 10 months of last year – 28 boys and 25 girls.

This year, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree establishing facilities for children who would be automatically registered as Arabs, Syrians, and Muslims, with the place of birth specified as the place to be found.

In opposition-held Idlib province, social workers at the main center for abandoned children tended to small children wrapped tightly in blankets in basic cradles, some decorated with purple paint or ribbons.

Faisal Al-Hamoud, head of programs at the center, said that an infant girl was found under an olive tree after being swept away by a cat.

Hammoud added that the workers are following up the matter to ensure that these children are treated well and “not trafficked”.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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