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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 9 April, 2003, 02:24 GMT 03:24 UK
Limbless Iraqi boy offered help
Ali Ismaeel Abbas
Almost all of Ali's family died in the attack
An Iraqi boy who had both arms blown off and was orphaned when a missile hit his Baghdad home has been offered help from around the world.

A former Indian royal Maharani Gayatri Devi from Jaipur said she would pay for a pair of artificial limbs for Ali Ismail Abbas, aged 12.

"I have to find out the whereabouts of the boy and where he can be operated upon. If the facilities are good in Iraq then he can be operated in Iraq or else anywhere in the world," she said.

The British clinic which makes prosthetic limbs for Heather Mills, the wife of the pop star Paul McCartney, has also offered to treat Ali Ismail Abbas.

"This is a humanitarian issue," said David Hills, manager of the Dorset Orthopaedic Company.

Now I want to be a doctor - but how can I? I don't have hands
Ali Ismail Abbas
"We all feel a certain amount of guilt for what is going in Iraq, even if we know that this war is necessary as a means to an end... it would be an ideal opportunity to help."

Ali Ismail Abbas was fast asleep when a missile obliterated his home killing most of his family.

"Can you help get my arms back? Do you think the doctors can get me another pair of hands? If I don't get a pair of hands I will commit suicide," he told correspondents.

"I wanted to be an army officer when I grow up but not any more. Now I want to be a doctor - but how can I? I don't have hands."

Severe burns

He is presently in a Baghdad hospital, an improvised metal cage over his chest to stop his burned flesh touching the bedclothes.

"It was midnight when the missile fell on us. My father, my mother and my brother died. My mother was five months pregnant."

Seven other members of his family also died in the attack.

Neighbours pulled him out and brought him to the hospital unconscious.

Wounded people being treated at al-Kindi hospital, Baghdad
Hospitals are overstretched
"Our house was just a poor shack. Why did they want to bomb us?"

He did not know the area where he lived was surrounded by military installations.

Florian Westphal, of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said that it would be necessary to decide whether Ali Ismail Abbas' interests would be best served by bringing him to Britain, as moving him from Baghdad could be fraught with difficulty.

"We are heartened by the public interest in this case. If there is an effort under way which is aimed at helping the boy, we would be all in favour of that. Every single bid to help children like him is important."

'Critical situation'

The United Nations has described the situation in Baghdad's hospitals as "critical", while the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a health emergency both in Baghdad and in the country as a whole.

Now when you have military engagement on the ground level, most people, at least the combatants, are hit much more seriously
Roland Huguenin-Benjamin
The director of the Red Cross team in the city, Roland Huguenin-Benjamin, said the start of ground operations by US troops in and around the city in recent days had led to a massive increase in doctors' workloads.

This contrasted with the situation during the aerial bombardment of the city in recent weeks, he said, when hospitals had mostly treated casualties with relatively light shrapnel injuries.

"Now when you have military engagement on the ground level, most people, at least the combatants, are hit much more seriously... it's all the more work for the doctors," Mr Huguenin-Benjamin told the BBC.


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