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Iraqi boy takes first steps with new leg in Grand Rapids

May 26, 2011

Yesterday, the 8-year old Iraqi boy we reported on three weeks ago, that lost his right leg due to a US missile attack outside his home in Baghdad, Iraq, took his first steps with a new prosthetic leg.

The local group Healing Children of Conflict (HCC) brought Hamzah and his father from Iraq so that the boy could get a prosthetic leg. Several HCC members were present yesterday when the doctors attached the leg and witnessed a joyful smile from both Hamzah and his father.

Hamzah then tried to walk with the new prosthetic leg and did quite well, according to the doctors at Mary Free Bed Hospital. He will need physical therapy to re-learn how to walk since it has been just over two years ago that he lost his leg to a missile explosion.

The doctor explained that as Hamzah grows minor adjustments can be made to the prosthetic, but after a few years he will need to be fitted with a new one. HCC members reiterated to Hamzah and his father that they were committed to bringing them back to Grand Rapids in order to get a new prosthetic leg over the years.

HCC members said this was a clear manifestation of the work they have set out to do in order to take responsibility for the innocent civilians that have been killed or murdered in recent US wars.

Hamzah is one of over a million children that have been killed or seriously wounded since the 1991 US War in the Gulf. Many civilians were killed during the US bombing in early 1991 and declassified records show that the US military strategically targeted civilian infrastructure in those 1991 attacks, which led to massive suffering and loss of life in the 1990s, especially children.

The lack of clean water, loss of medical facilities and the US/UN sanctions imposed on Iraq all contributed to tremendous loss of life. In fact, according to UNICEF, the number of Iraqi children that had died in the 1990s due to the sanctions was 500,000 by 1999. Some may remember that shortly after the UNICEF report came out that then Secretary of State Madeline Albright was interviewed on the CBS show 60 Minutes. Here is what Albright had to say about the death 500,000 Iraqi children:

The sanctions continued even after the US invasion/bombing campaign that began in March of 2003, which has led to even more children dying or being seriously wounded like Hamzah. It is difficult to find specific numbers of Iraqi children that have died or have been wounded as a direct result of the now 8 – year US occupation of Iraq, but the website Iraq Body Count does provide a year to year data base that gives some indication of the number of Iraqi children that have been killed.

Bringing Hamzah to the US to get a new prosthetic leg does not undue the horrible suffering caused by several decades of US warfare in Iraq, but the smile on Hamzah’s face yesterday sure looked like a power symbol of hope and the willingness of some Americans to take responsibility for the actions of the US military in Iraq.

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