Hope for Iraq's War-Wounded
IRC's Dr. Muntadhar Al-Muhanna examines Karar Settar Ghali, 9, who lost his leg when he picked up an unexploded bomblet in his family's backyard. Karar's cousin Mahmoud Kerim died in the accident.
The International Rescue Committee has launched a quick impact program to help Iraqis with war injuries receive follow-up treatment.
"There are many poor people wounded in the recent war who urgently need to see specialists," says IRC's health manager Dr. Saeb Muhammad Ali. "Most health care is being provided free of charge in Iraq but a lot of patients cannot afford necessary drugs, prosthetics and transportation to and from the hospital. So the IRC will help facilitate."
Karar Settar Ghali is nine years old and lives in the poor Nasser area on the outskirts of Karbala in southern Iraq. On 17 April he was playing in the backyard of his house together with his brother Saif Settar, 12, and his cousin Mahmoud Kerim, 14. Meanwhile, Karar's father Settar Kattei was sitting in the front of the house where he earns a meager living selling cigarettes and crackers.
"I heard a very loud explosion," Settar Kattei says, illustrating the blast with his hands. "What I then saw is too horrible for words. There was blood everywhere - on the floor, on the walls. And the three children were lying there, lifeless."
The boys had picked up an unexploded bomblet dropped from the air in the fighting between U.S. forces and the Iraqi army. The explosion killed Mahmoud Kerim instantly and wounded the two brothers.
"I took them to a nearby hospital where they operated my sons. Karar's leg had to be cut off," Settar Kattei said sadly.
IRC health manager Dr. Muntadhar Al-Muhanna is examining the stump where Karar's right leg once was and looking at the many scars on his small body. Numerous pieces of shrapnel are still lodged in his head, abdomen and legs. A couple of fingers that were blown off are not healing well.
"We will help him to get specialist treatment in Suleimaniyah," says Dr. Saeb Muhammad Ali. "He needs to be fitted with a prosthetic limb and get the shrapnel out."
In the first days of the project, the IRC identified some 20 people with serious injuries from shrapnel and bullets around the cities of Karbala and Najaf. The IRC will ensure that all of them have access to treatment.