BEIRUT: A stray dog was found carrying a newborn baby girl in a trash bag through the streets of Tripoli, in Lebanon on Wednesday, sparking shock across the impoverished nation.
A passerby saw the dog carrying the bag and heard a baby’s cries. He managed to take the bag from the dog and found the child inside. The infant, who had bruises all over her body, was taken to the Islamic Charity Hospital, then transferred to the Tripoli Governmental Hospital after security services and judicial authorities were informed.
The baby is believed to be only a few hours old, Arab News has learned.
But it is not known exactly when she was abandoned. Her condition was described as serious but stable - the hospital declined to provide any further information.
Ghassan Rifi, a journalist in Tripoli, said he had never seen an incident as disturbing as this in the city during his career.
“Usually, when someone wants to give up their kids, they place them in front of an orphanage or a police station,’ he said.
“However, this baby was dumped in an area that is considered very dangerous at night, as a lot of stray dogs can be found. The municipality had previously tried to poison these dogs but animal welfare organizations refused and called for their protection.”
The area in which the baby was found, said Rifi, is not residential but is close to Al-Tal neighborhood. As the story spread on social media, so too did speculation about who might have abandoned the baby.
“Is it possible that whoever dumped her wanted to get rid of her by letting the dogs eat her in this area infested with stray dogs, and that she was saved by that man who happened to be there by chance?” Rifi said.
Authorities are investigating. When the girl recovers, if no one offers to adopt her she will be placed in an orphanage after the public prosecutor is informed.
Abdulrahman Darwish, a representative in Tripoli of the Union of Relief and Development Associations, said that he does not believe the incident had anything to do with the Syrian refugee community in Lebanon.
“Over nine years, we haven’t witnessed any incident like this in the Syrian refugee camps,” he said. “I also don’t think that what happened is the result of the dire economic situation, as everyone is suffering from the crisis but no one has ever dumped their newborn on a street full of stray dogs.”
Five years ago, a newborn was abandoned at a public park in Tripoli during the summer, Darwish said.
“When the baby was found, witnesses gave investigators the description of a woman who was holding a baby at the park,” he added.
“It appeared that she was a prostitute and the baby was the result of an illegal relationship. She was arrested several times and whenever she was out of jail, she would resume her trade. She was forced to take care of her kid.”
The discovery of the baby came just days after reports of the physical abuse of children at a daycare center in Mount Lebanon prompted anger across the country. The incident came to light after a cleaner at the facility filmed examples of the abuse and passed the videos to parents of the children. Arrest warrants were issued for the owner of the business and an employee.
In another shocking incident, 6-year-old Lynn Taleb died less than two weeks ago after being raped. According to a security source, the ongoing and complex investigation has led to the arrest of the child’s grandfather and mother.
According to a report published by UN Interim Force in Lebanon: “One in two children (in the country) is at risk of physical, psychological or sexual violence.
“Due to family destitution, children face the risk of serious violations, including early marriage, child labor and family violence.”
It also pointed out that “about 1.8 million children in Lebanon (over 80 percent of children) are now experiencing multidimensional poverty — up from about 900,000 in 2019 — and risk being forced into abuses, such as child labor or child marriage, to help their families make ends meet.”