Newborn babies abandoned on impoverished northwest Syria's streets: monitor

Newborn babies abandoned on impoverished northwest Syria's streets: monitor
2 min read
29 October, 2021
The newborns were found across the opposition-held areas of northwest Syria, most of them on the streets and others in the vicinity of mosques or communal buildings.
Most of the infants were found on the streets, others in the vicinity of mosques or communal buildings in northwest Syria [Getty-file photo]

Nine newborn babies have been found in the street in areas of Syria controlled by opposition factions since the start of the year, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday.

The newborns were found in various locations across the opposition-held areas of northwest Syria, most of them on the streets and others in the vicinity of mosques or communal buildings.

Two of the infants had died before they were found, the monitor said.

Human rights organisation Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) expressed fear two years ago of the “alarming increase in the number of newborns being abandoned” in opposition-held areas.

More than 40 abandoned babies had been recorded in the year 2018 and the first half of 2019, according to the STJ.

“Poverty was among the main reasons” behind this trend, the STJ said, in addition to the prevalence of forced and early marriages. 

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"The conditions we live in during the war and the unbearable poverty mean the child’s living conditions might be bad because I’m unable to fulfill our most basic daily needs,” a woman who had abandoned her child told Syrian news outlet Syria Direct in a 2020 investigation.

Abandoning her child was the “worst possible situation a mother could be in,” she added. 

Rampant poverty rates are a major issue across Syria. In the northwest of the country, four million people live in an overcrowded enclave controlled by opposition factions, including three million displaced persons. The area is subjected to regular bombing by the Syrian army and its allies, leading to continued destruction and displacement. 

The abandonment of children is also prevalent in other areas of Syria. Between 2011 and March 2018, around 300 cases of abandoned children were recorded in Damascus, according to a governmental source cited by Syria Direct.

Abandoned children in Syria are at risk of losing access to basic rights like education and even to their nationality because they are not registered at birth. Without a known Syrian father, they cannot be registered as Syrian citizens.