JEDDAH, 25 September 2006 — Four out of 16 babies found abandoned in different locations across Jeddah in the last two months were found dead as a result of heat and dehydration.
According to the Saudi Red Crescent, babies, thought to be illegitimate, are regularly found in Jeddah at famous roundabouts, mosques and shopping centers. Most of the babies found tend to be less than 10 months old.
Within the last two months 16 babies have been found abandoned in Jeddah. Some were rescued by pedestrians and later handed to the Saudi Red Crescent and then to an orphanage in the city.
Others were found sick and rushed to hospital where they later died. Many unfortunate ones were found dead at the places where they were abandoned.
“The families of these infants are unknown. Most of them are younger than 10 months. The police usually call us when they find a baby abandoned. The babies end up in an orphanage. It is so sad that such a thing is happening in Jeddah. These are not mothers but monsters,” said a Saudi Red Crescent source speaking to Arab News.
The reasons why the children have been abandoned by their parents are unknown. However, it is believed that the babies are the outcome of illegitimate relationships. “In the case of the four infants found dead, they died as a result of the hot weather. Their bodies could not bear the heat and they died as a result of dehydration and hunger. Some of the infants found had not eaten anything for two days before they died,” said the source. The Saudi Red Crescent say that they have found dead babies in rural locations in south Jeddah away from homes. “Because they get abandoned in desolate areas they end up staying for a long time without food and people don’t hear their crying because they are so far away. Police patrol units discover their bodies when they make their routine patrol to those areas,” said the source.
“It seems these infants are abandoned in the middle of the night. The men or women want to get rid of the infants to hide the shame of having an illegitimate child. The mother forgets that she is a mother and in a moment where she has no emotions, she throws him away leaving his small body victim to the heat and wild dogs and cats,” he added.
Ehsan Al-Tayeb, manager of social affairs in the Makkah area, said that the responsibility of children lies with the parents and the society on the whole. “Abandoned children need more care than orphans. It’s not like they’ve committed a crime or something. They should not be treated like this. Islam calls on Muslims to care for children and not to abandon them like this,” he said.
The Saudi-based Al-Bir Charitable Society is presently looking after more than 270 orphans who live in three charitable homes at a cost of SR6 million, which is SR24,000 each year. Al-Bir provides the housing, transportation, food and education costs of children under its care. Al-Bir is also spending SR4.9 million on 2,000 orphans not living in their charitable homes. Children under the care of Al-Bir are orphans and missing children and children transferred from social affairs.
The total number of children in Saudi Arabia whose parents are unknown is estimated to be 8,500. According to Saudi law, such children are given Saudi citizenship and identification cards. Al-Bir also provides them with SR30,000 in financial help when they want to get married.