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Iraq: young boy returns from hell

28-08-2007 Feature

Separated from his youngest son who suddenly disappeared in Iraq, a father sacrificed his professional life in Jordan and most of his belongings to get him back. The ICRC's Hicham Hassan reports.

Bassam lives in Jordan. He is a very relieved father now that his youngest son Qussay is standing next to him after three years of separation. " At one point we had no idea about what happened to him in Iraq and people were always telling me to let go because they thought he was dead. I was willing to do anything to find Qussay, " says Bassam.

Qussay had left Jordan for Iraq in 2004 with his Iraqi mother when he was just three months old. On just another day in Baghdad, his mother died in a car explosion. Though he survived as he was not in the same car as her, he disappeared for over a year.

During that time, his father Bassam, still in Jordan, was contacted several times by people claiming to have information about Qussay's whereabouts and asking for money in return. Bassam paid and paid until he finally had to sell his house. This went on until Qussay was released a year ago on the doorstep of his grandmother's house.

 Together again  

Before his son's liberation, Bassam had registered a tracing request with the ICRC delegation in Amman. ICRC staff in Baghdad and Amman exchanged information and were finally successful in locating Qussay. All details settled with his father in Jordan and his grandmother in Baghdad, ICRC employees swiftly brought the young boy out of Iraq. But Qussay did not really understand where he was going. After all, he was not even three years old.

His father and his brother Bilal, seven years old, were waiting for him at the airport in Amman. Bilal was also waiting to see his mother. He had been left unawar e of her tragic fate. " He was constantly looking towards the entrance waiting to see his mother, " says Bassam, and it broke my heart. I did not know what to tell him.

Bassam had to quit his job two years ago in order to dedicate most of his time to finding his son. Today, Qussay lives with his father at his grandparents'house. Due to a lack of space, Bilal stays with his aunt on the outskirts of the Jordanian capital. The two brothers meet more or less regularly once a week.

Qussay is no longer kept inside the house out of fear of kidnapping or explosions. Bassam reflects on his son's new life: " He has finally returned to his family after a painful period. He is my flesh and blood. Now he is in my arms. It must have been difficult for him to come to Amman and discover a family he never met before. I will try to compensate the absence of my wife but it won't be easy. We are together and that's what counts. "