Syrian baby Aya is about to be adopted by great-uncle

Abu Hadiya likely gave birth to the girl and then died a few hours before they were discovered, Dr. Hani Maarouf.

“We named her Aya so we could stop calling her a newborn,” Maarouf said. Her condition is improving by the day and there was no damage to her spine as initially feared, he said.

A doctor attends to baby Aya at the Children's Hospital in Afrin, Syria.

A doctor attends to baby Aya at the Children’s Hospital in Afrin, Syria.Credit:AP

The BBC reported that a Kuwaiti TV presenter was among thousands of people on social media asking for details about Aya’s adoption.

“I am willing to care for and adopt this child … if the legal process allows me,” the channel told the TV host.

The UN children’s organization UNICEF said it was monitoring children whose parents were missing or killed, providing food, clothing and medicine and coordinating with hospitals to trace extended family members who could potentially care for them.

In Turkey, the Ministry of Family and Social Services appealed to prospective foster families to apply. Children whose families or relatives cannot be found are currently being cared for in state institutions, it said. Staff assessed their needs and placed them with registered foster families.

People walk past collapsed buildings after a devastating earthquake in the city of Jinderis, in Syria's Aleppo province.

People walk past collapsed buildings after a devastating earthquake in the city of Jinderis, in Syria’s Aleppo province.Credit:AP

An NGO has set up a makeshift orphanage near the opposition-held Syrian town of Azaz, which now houses about 40 children.

Syrians have experienced the tragedy of orphans: hundreds of thousands have been killed in the country’s long civil war that began in 2011 and left an unknown number of orphans.

Jana, the seven-year-old, was found on Tuesday after 30 hours by rescue workers under the rubble of her family’s home in Harem, a Syrian town near the Turkish border, Alsfouk said. Her mother, father and three siblings were killed.


She was taken to a hospital in the nearby town of Bab al-Hawa, which was already overwhelmed.

“In our children’s department we have 24 beds and five incubators, but we have taken in dozens of children. We didn’t have much capacity. And we were the only hospital with a pediatric surgery department in the area,” Alsfouk said.

Jana, seen by an AP journalist on Wednesday, cried out in pain and confusion in her bed, waving the IV tubes in her arms. Her face was covered with cuts.

An aunt came later and Jana was released to her, Alsfouk said.


Alsfouk’s own house had been destroyed and his family had moved in with friends. For days he has been treating the onslaught of injured children, some of whom did not survive.

“The whole experience was terrible. It’s hard to hold back your grief after you’ve tried to save a child and couldn’t,” he said, “because then you have to move on to dozens of other kids who needed help.”

At the moment things are too confusing to determine the number of orphans, said Dr. Muheeb Qaddour, deputy chief of health in Syria’s Idlib province, which is the center of the country’s last opposition-held enclave in the northwest, was badly hit by the quake.

“But now people are starting to realize that many children are now without families. There is a big embrace of them by society. Distant relatives take them in before they go to an orphanage,” he said. “Unfortunately, things will only become clear after the dust of the earthquake has settled.”


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Callan Tansill

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