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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April 2003, 08:30 GMT 09:30 UK
Tragic brothers' funeral struggle
By Finlo Rohrer
BBC News Online

Three Iraqi-born British brothers who lost 10 members of their family in a botched coalition attack in Basra are battling red tape to get back for the funeral.

Sudad Hamoodi, 42, said he and his brothers were caught up in bureaucracy that meant they might not be able to join their father for Sunday's ceremony in the holy city of Najaf.

Abid Hassan Hamoodi, 72, survived the attack on 5 April and has already told BBC News Online of his efforts in vain to save the lives of his wife, computer engineer son, gynaecologist daughter and seven grandchildren after aircraft from the US-led forces mistakenly bombed his home.

Bomb site

Sons Sudad, Anam, and Mazin, have been in Britain since the early 1980s, are UK citizens and live in Manchester, but they say the British Government is not doing enough to help them return.

They need visas to get into Kuwait and safe passage into Iraq, but are angry that the coalition has neither apologised for the deaths of their relatives nor made it easy for them to return.

Sudad Hamoodi told BBC News Online copies of his passport and those of his brothers had been sent to the UK Foreign Office two weeks ago.

The Foreign Office said these had been sent on to the Kuwaiti Embassy, who in turn told Sudad Hamoodi that the papers had been sent on to the Kuwaiti foreign ministry.

But Sudad Hamoodi says that when he contacted Kuwaiti officials, they denied any knowledge of the documents. The Hamoodis have had no reassurances they will be able to get to the funeral in time.

No guarantee

The UK Foreign Office says both the Kuwaiti Embassy and the Kuwaiti foreign ministry have been made aware of the "compassionate" and urgent nature of the case.

But after delays to allow the Hamoodi brothers time to get to Iraq, their family have said the funeral will now go ahead on Sunday whether they are present or not.

Mr Hamoodi told BBC News Online: "They keep postponing the funeral. They have given us a deadline - if we are not there by Sunday they are going to do it without us.

"Quite a lot of people have gone [back to Iraq] from the Iraqi opposition. We are in special circumstances. Why can't we?

"We have had no assurances whatsoever. We feel absolutely devastated, betrayed. We are banging our heads against the wall, me and my brothers.

Abid Hassan Hamoodi
The grandfather scrabbled through the rubble

"We need to be with my father, who has survived this. We can't be there to support him.

"I will be more devastated if they bury them without me being there."

The Foreign Office told BBC News Online it could not offer any guarantee that the Hamoodi brothers would be able to get back in time for Sunday's funeral.

A spokeswoman said: "We are doing all that we can on the visa issue and on trying to ensure that the family can reach Basra safely.

"We are liaising with the MoD about the security situation on the ground and about how the family can reach Basra safely."

Sudad Hamoodi said it was heartbreaking that his family had been wiped out after surviving years of the Saddam Hussein regime unscathed.

"We never had any problems with Saddam's regime, none of the family ever interfered, and yet we got murdered by British and Americans.

"You see on the television some British soldier's coming from Basra to attend a wedding, we lost 10 members of our family.

"Nobody even sent a condolence, we got no help whatsoever."




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