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Mariam Hamza, and the girl who sells the cigarettes

Six year old Mariam Hamza is blessed and cursed: she was born with a face
whose innocence haunts, yet born in Iraq during a time of Saddam and
sanctions.  She arrived in Pittsburgh yesterday, for cancer treatment, where
she is expected to remain for several weeks.  Our thoughts are with her.

In the same vein, a Franciscan Sister wrote from Jordan yesterday of a
little refugee whose case, sadly, may not be atypical.   Our thoughts are
with her, too.

The toll for sanctions among children runs far deeper than the 500,000
excess deaths UNICEF reports.


The Irish Times
Aug. 15, 2000
Letters to the Editor


Sir - I have lived in Jordan now for the past nine years and have seen the
effects of the economic sanctions on the Iraqi people, both here in Jordan
and in Iraq itself. I agree with Niall Andrews (The Irish Times, August 7th)
that life under sanctions cannot be called life. It is merely a living hell
for most people. I visited Iraq in May and while I had to endure the lack of
electricity in 40C heat for only 10 days, the people of Iraq have endured
this and much worse for the past 10 years.

Everywhere I heard stories of lack of medicine and food. One woman told us
that her family had searched all of the north of the country for blood-bags
to give blood to her 34-year-old brother who had leukemia. They had blood
but no bags.

There is no point in repeating what Mr Andrews said so well but it needs to
be noted that thousands of Iraqis have fled the country, many making their
home illegally here in Jordan. These people, women mostly, live nine or 10
to a room and make a living by selling cigarettes in the market. It is a sad
revelation to me that a five-year-old child who has worked on the streets
selling cigarettes and begging for the past two years is the sole earner on
whom her five siblings and her mother depends. Sadder still is that this
child feels this is a normal life. Although she is in school now, thanks to
the generosity of the local parish, she is now for the summer back selling
cigarettes at the traffic lights. I thank Mr Andrews for raising this issue
and pray that some solution will be found. For surely no one can seriously
think that the starving of a nation and the decimation of its moral and
social fabric can have any results save the destruction of a country and the
slaughter of its innocents. - Yours, etc., 

MARY BURKE, Franciscan Missionary of the Divine Motherhood, Amman, Jordan. 

Iraqi girl arrives here for cancer treatment 

Wednesday, August 16, 2000
By The Associated Press 

A 6-year-old girl who has become a symbol for Iraqis living under sanctions
arrived at Pittsburgh International Airport yesterday afternoon and could
remain in the region for several weeks while being treated for cancer.

Mariam Hamza landed in Pittsburgh with her grandmother, Fatin Hamid, on a
flight from New York City. Royal Jordanian Airlines arranged a free flight
for them from Amman, Jordan, to New York, said Mark Clement, a spokesman for
the religious Bruderhof Community in Farmington, Fayette County, where the
girl and her grandmother will stay.

Mariam was granted a visa by the U.S. Embassy in Jordan following several
appeals from American congressmen and humanitarian groups, said a statement
from the Mariam Appeal Campaign.

Fawaz Zureikat, the Jordanian chairman of the campaign, said the embassy
approved the visas for humanitarian reasons despite sanctions on Iraq.

The girl first came to international attention when she was treated for
leukemia in Scotland in 1998. 

Her treatment was initiated by George Galloway, a member of the British
Parliament, who spotted her in a Baghdad hospital during a trip designed to
publicize the effects of sanctions on ordinary Iraqis.

A pediatrician in Greensburg, Ali Aboosi, has donated his services. Mariam
is expected to receive further diagnostic evaluations at Children's Hospital
in Pittsburgh.

Galloway launched the Mariam Appeal Campaign last year and toured Europe,
North Africa and the Middle East on a double-deck bus to highlight the
plight of Iraqis under U.N. sanctions imposed on the country for its 1990
invasion of Kuwait.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rania Masri []
Sent: Tuesday, August 15, 2000 9:34 AM
Subject: [IAC] A famous Iraqi child, Mariam Hamza, will arrive at
Pittsburgh , Int'L Airport on August 15

From: Mark Clement <>

News Release:

In the United States: Mark Clement at  724-329-8573

A famous Iraqi child, Mariam Hamza, will arrive at Pittsburgh International
Airport on August 15

August 14, 2000. Pittsburgh, PA.  Mariam Hamza, a six-year-old Iraqi child
known throughout the Middle East and much of Europe as a symbol of all Iraqi
children suffering under the sanctions, is scheduled to arrive in Pittsburgh
International Airport at 2:05 pm on August 15 on American Airlines Flight
#5039. Her flight from Jordan to the United States is a gift from Royal
Jordanian Airlines who have also provided a complimentary seat for her
grandmother. The media is invited to meet this child and her grandmother as
they arrive. An interpreter will be available.

Mariam was scheduled to arrive several days ago and had hoped to participate
in Children's Crusade 2000, an international children's festival held in
Farmington August 11-13, but her medical condition prevented her from
traveling at that time. Doctors at the Al-Amal hospital in Jordan have
stabilized her condition and she is now en-route. At Children's Crusade 2000
a significant new book on children, Endangered: Your Child in a Hostile
World was launched. The author, Johann Christoph
Arnold, visited Mariam in Jordan in November, 1999 and has followed her
situation since. As Elder of the Bruderhof Communities, one of the
organizations sponsoring her travel to the US, he helped arrange for Mariam
to come to the US for further medical care.

Mariam and her grandmother will be hosted by noted pediatrician Dr. Ali
Aboosi of Greensburg, Pennsylvania and by the Bruderhof Communities in
Farmington, Pennsylvania. Dr. Aboosi is donating his services as a doctor
and the Bruderhof Communities are donating all costs of transport in the
United States and all food and lodging expenses. The Bruderhof Communities
have sent several delegations to Iraq to bring medicine for the suffering
children and to express their solidarity with the Iraqi people suffering
under the sanctions. 

In 1998, as a four-year-old child suffering from leukemia, Mariam was
brought to the United Kingdom by George Galloway, Member of the British
Parliament. George Galloway is the Senior Vice-Chairman of the Labour
Party's Foreign Affairs Committee. Mariam arrived in London in a blaze of
publicity and was treated for leukemia in a Glasgow Hospital. Mariam is
being flown to the United States for medical care and follow-up courtesy of
Royal Jordanian Airlines. This great humanitarian gesture by Royal Jordanian
Airlines has been welcomed and appreciated by Mariam's supporters around the
world. Mariam will travel with her grandmother Umhadiattah Burhan. Also of
note is the fact that the United States Embassy in Amman kindly waived the
visa fees for Mariam and her grandmother. The sponsors of Mariam's trip to
the United States for medical care hope that the illegal sanctions will be
lifted so that all Iraqi children suffering as Mariam has will be able to
have access to the medical care she is about to receive. 

The Mariam Appeal, a campaign to end the sanctions, was founded by George
Galloway, MP and is named after Mariam Hamza. Her picture has appeared on
posters throughout the Middle East and Europe. For further information
regarding Mariam and the Mariam Appeal please visit website:


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