Displaced Syrian orphan 'shockingly' abused by grandparents, taken to hospital

Displaced Syrian orphan 'shockingly' abused by grandparents, taken to hospital
Six-year-old orphan Maram Assaf was found with her hands and feet tied near a camp for the displaced in northern Syria, after allegedly being abused by her step-grandmother.
3 min read
19 May, 2022
Six-year-old Maram's weight is around that of a child half her age, according to her doctor [Getty]

A displaced child found tied up outside of her grandfather’s shelter in northern Syria has been taken to hospital as NGOs call for better child protection services in the area.

Six-year-old Maram Assaf was found with her hands and feet tied near the Jabal Al-Zawiya camp by Hamdu Hamadi Sheikh, a civilian from the nearby Salah Al-Deen Al-Ayoubi camp as he was working, his camp’s manager Abu Ayman and local journalist Adnan al-Imami told The New Arab.

Authorities took the young girl to the Bab Al-Hawa hospital after being made aware of her situation, according to medics.

“She shows clear signs of having suffered child abuse and a lack of nutrition… her weight is around that of a three-year-old and she has bruises all over her body and rope tie marks on her hands,” one of Assaf’s doctors, Mahmood Kadah, told The New Arab.

"However after being given the appropriate care, her condition is good and stable overall," Kadah continued. "She has just started to eat and drink in a promising way."

Assaf – whose parents died in Russian shelling during the Syrian war – was living with her grandfather and his wife, who allegedly tied her up and abused her, according to al-Imami and Abu Ayman.

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Doctors have not yet disclosed where Maram will stay following her release. Abu-Ayman says his camp will willingly open its doors to the young child.

The Syrian Civil Defence – otherwise known as the White Helmets – are also closely following the case “to see any way in which we are able to help”. 

“We are in contact with organisations that provide children with care, we won’t leave [Maram] until we are sure she is ok and in a safe place,” Mousa Zidane, media coordinator for the White Helmets told The New Arab.

Zidane highlighted there have been similar cases of child abuse across northern Syria in recent years, some of which have resulted in the death of the child.

Kathryn Achilles, Advocacy, Media and Communications Director for NGO Save the Children's Syria response office told The New Arab that the international community needs to do more to protect children like Maram.

"Northwest Syria remains an incredibly difficult place to be a child... the international community needs to better support and fund child protection services... in this area in order to help protect children from neglect and abuse." 

Aisha Aldris is a journalist and podcast host, accredited by the Broadcast Journalism Training Council. She specialises in social and humanitarian issues, alongside cultural identity and the arts. Follow her on Twitter: @aishaaldris