‘She’s my daughter now’: Uncle of ‘miracle baby’ born under rubble of Syrian quake that killed her parents and siblings says his family will bring her up – and she will be named after her dead mother
- The baby began life trapped under several layers of concrete following the quake
- Afraa al-Suwadi’s mother and father were found dead with her four siblings
Born under the rubble amid the horrific earthquakes that killed her parents and siblings, Syria’s ‘miracle baby’ has now been taken in by her relatives.
Afraa al-Suwadi began life trapped under several layers of concrete following the devastating earthquakes earlier this month that left her as the sole survivor of her immediate family.
More than 10 hours after the quake hit, rescuers were digging through the wreckage of a decimated five-story apartment building where they found a baby still connected by her umbilical cord to her mother, Afraa Abu Hadiya, who was dead along with her husband and four other children.
Since footage of her rescue in the north Syrian town of Jindayris went viral on social media, Suwadi’s story has captivated a grieving nation and made international headlines as Syria’s ‘miracle baby’.
She is one of untold numbers of orphans left by the quakes, which killed more than 47,000 people in northern Syria and southeastern Turkey.
Afraa al-Suwadi began life trapped under several layers of concrete following the devastating earthquakes in Syria and Turkey earlier this month
Rescuers found Afraa al-Suwadi still connected by her umbilical cord to her mother
‘She is my soul, my life, and my whole world,’ her uncle Khalil al-Suwadi said from his tent in the town, cradling the newborn.
The baby, wrapped in a blanket and wearing a red hat with a little bow, was given her mother’s name, Afraa – one of more than 47,000 people killed across war-ravaged Syria and neighbouring Turkey in the 7.8-magnitude quake.
Khalil al-Suwadi took in the baby about a week and a half after she had been admitted to hospital in rebel-held Jindayris, near the Turkish border.
Medical staff performed a DNA test to ensure they were indeed relatives.
‘The day they told us we could have her I was overjoyed, it was indescribable,’ said the uncle, who had helped rescue her.
Khalil al-Suwadi is married to a sister of the baby’s late father, who was also his cousin.
‘This child is a living memory of her father, mother and siblings’ who perished, he said.
One day, when baby Afraa is older, he said he would tell her the family’s story.
The baby, wrapped in a blanket and wearing a red hat with a little bow, was given her mother’s name, Afraa
‘She is my soul, my life, and my whole world,’ her uncle Khalil al-Suwadi said from his tent in the town, cradling the newborn
Khalil al-Suwadi took in the baby about a week and a half after she had been admitted to hospital
The baby was born under rubble following the earthquakes that hit Syria and Turkey
She is one of untold numbers of orphans left by the quakes, which killed more than 47,000 people in northern Syria and southeastern Turkey
Rescuers and residents search through the rubble of collapsed buildings in the town of Harem near the Turkish border, Idlib province, Syria, February 8, 2023
When he laid her on one of the mattresses strewn across the flimsy tent the family had moved into after the quake, his daughters gathered around the baby, embracing and kissing her.
The uncle said his wife gave birth a few days ago but he has devoted much of his time to take care of Afraa.
‘She is now like one of my daughters.’
The U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, said it has been monitoring children whose parents are missing or killed, providing food, clothes and medicine and coordinating with hospitals to track down extended family members who might be able to care for them.
In Turkey, the Ministry of Family and Social Services appealed to potential foster families to submit applications. It said children whose families or relatives could not be found were currently being taken care of in state institutions. Staff were assessing their needs and placing them with registered foster families, the ministry said.
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