Published August 07, 2003
LONDON – A 13-year-old Iraqi boy who lost his parents and both arms in the war that toppled Saddam Hussein arrived Thursday in Britain for treatment.
With a U.S. Army hat as a souvenir and pledges from Kuwait's government to pay for his treatment until he reaches adulthood, Ali Abbas (search) arrived on a Kuwaiti state plane. Also on board was his uncle and another injured Iraqi boy, 14-year-old Ahmed Hamza, who lost his left foot and right hand in U.S. bombardments near Baghdad.
Both boys are scheduled to be fitted with prosthetic limbs at Queen Mary's Hospital Rehabilitation Center (search) in London.
The boys were evacuated to Kuwait in mid-April and treated for burns caused when U.S. missiles struck their homes. Ali lost his father, pregnant mother, brother and 13 other relatives. Ahmed lost a sister.
Ali's story drew international attention after pictures of him crying in pain at a Baghdad hospital appeared around the world.
Ahmed's father, who went to Kuwait from Iraq recently at the boy's request, carried him to the bus that drove them to the aircraft for the flight to a British air force base west of London.
Before the boys left the VIP hall in the Kuwait City (search) airport, three members of the U.S. Army military police gave them camouflage hats and arm bands.
The boys beamed when they saw the team, whose job has been to reunite Iraqi children treated in Kuwait with their families, and giggled as they put the hats on their heads and called them "cowboys."
"I'm going to miss them," said Maj. Kate Van Auken, of Gloucester, Mass.
Kuwait's health minister, Mohammed al-Jarrallah, accompanied the boys and their relatives to the airport. He told reporters he expected the boys to be in Britain initially for three months.
"But as far as we are concerned, we are committed to treating them until they are fully grown," he said.
Kuwait, a major U.S. ally that was the launch pad for the U.S.-British-led war in Iraq, also was going to pay for psychological care received by the boys and their families, and repairs to their homes in Iraq.
Canada has granted permission for Ali and five of his relatives to emigrate to Canada after being sponsored by an Ontario emergency room doctor, CTV News reported Wednesday.
Dr. Falih Hafuth, a father of three from Cambridge, Ontario, has been trying to adopt Ali and traveled to Kuwait last month to visit him.
Ali, dressed in a white shirt whose short sleeves hung empty, said he wanted to go to a soccer match in London. Tired of smiling for the cameras, he said: "I'm going to charge $5 a photo."