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UAE offers hope for injured Iraqi children

posted on 22/01/2007: 1578 views

His burnt face and body and deformed hands did not prevent Saif Ebrahim, 4, from smiling for the camera. A smile that signifies hope for him and 54 other children who were flown in from Iraq for treatment by the Red Crescent Authority (RCA).

Saif was in his home in Baghdad with his mother Nashtaman in December 2005, when a bomb exploded in the neighbourhood. There was no electricity and the house was lit by a kerosene lamp, his mother told Gulf News.

"The lamp, due to pressure from the explosion, fell on Saif, burnt him and deformed his face and hands," said Nashtaman, who was sitting in an RCA ambulance with her son, waiting to be moved to Al Mafraq Hospital for treatment.

About 55 children, aged three months to 15 years flew into Emiri Airport in Abu Dhabi yesterday afternoon. The children, along with their parents, are the third batch of Iraqis to be treated in the UAE, following the directives from President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the follow up of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the RCA.

"It's a humanitarian message we are sending to our brothers in Iraq; that we feel what they are feeling and that we have been and still are with them," said Khalifa Nasser Al Suwaidi, RCA Board Chairman. Al Suwaidi was among the delegation receiving the patients at the airport, along with Ambassador Fares Ujail Al Yawer, Iraqi ambassador to the UAE.

The children were not "physically' injured by the war, but rather "psychologically injured," said Dr Saleh Al Ta'ei, rescue and emergency head at the RCA, who flew to Iraq and back to Abu Dhabi accompanying the children.

"Some of the children have cancer, others can't hear, other can't see and all of them were mentally shocked from the war and from being away from their parents. In addition to the bad conditions they live in which all had a bad effect on them," he said.

The children came from all parts of Iraq, which was a "big risk because they had to be brought to Baghdad," said Dr Al Ta'ei.

"Bringing them to Baghdad was very risky, and we had to rent a hall in the airport where we spent a night before we flew back to Abu Dhabi, the situation in Baghdad was very dangerous," he said.

The children will be put in Al Mafraq Hospital in the first phase, and will be checked by doctors before the treatment starts. "Some children might be moved to other hospitals, according to the severity of their cases," said Al Suwaidi. (Gulf News)


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