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Shot in an Afghan firefight, 6 year-old Ameera is saved by American troops

U.S officials has confirmed that the girl’s family has ties with Taliban, hence it is dangerous to reveal her identity or her uncle’s who accompanied her to the base hospital. Media is calling her Ameera.

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Toys and gifts for Ameera fill her hospital room. Image Source: npr.org

The hospital on the sprawling Bagram Airfield does not many trauma cases these days expect one. In a firefight between American and Afghan soldiers and Taliban insurgents, a 6 year-old was shot. The gun battle resulted in death of her father, a Taliban fighter along with her mother and some siblings.

U.S officials has confirmed that the girl’s family has ties with Taliban, hence it is dangerous to reveal her identity or her uncle’s who accompanied her to the base hospital. Media is calling her Ameera.

It can be easily said that she represents the way Afghan war continues to play out since many U.S. troops have limited their role to just “advising and assisting” indigenous troops. Violence continues in Afghanistan and it has killed more children last year than any since record keeping began. The UN said many people were killed or got wounded in the 2015.

Nurses have Ameera draw henna patterns to distract her from the pain. Image sourve: npr.org
Nurses have Ameera draw henna patterns to distract her from the pain. Image sourve: npr.org

Dr. Chance Henderson, a a Texas-born orthopedic surgeon who has been treating her said if Ameera had gone to Afghan clinic “she’d definitely have had an amputation- and rightly so. That is the best way to save her life if you don’t have the means available to do what we have done in 12 or 20 surgeries.”

Ameera is being treated at an American hospital because she was shot in a firefight that involved their troops, so she has been receiving American care.

Dr Henderson also said, saving her would not save her from the danger posed by the wound but also from the danger of going back to live in Afghanistan without it.

“Her outlook on life as a single amputee that does not have a family is much different than it would be for us in the States,” he said. “Her future would be grim, and probably her life span would be short.”

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Chance Henderson, an orthopedic surgeon. Image source : npr.org
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Chance Henderson, an orthopedic surgeon. Image source : npr.org

Air Force 1st Lt. Serena Matson remembered Ameera’s “nonstop crying” when she came in. Matson said, “She is little. She does not know us. We are not familiar-looking, and there are just a lot of people in and out of the room. She was just scared. ‘Who are these strange people? They don’t look like me. Where is my family?’ “

After many days of treatment, the staff member made her feel more comfortable. She got many toys, crayons and movies starring Mickey Mouse.

Even the staff member’s became fond of her, now Matson in her free time does Ameera’s hair, learning few Pashto words and teaching her little English.

Even though Ameera came through from the biggest challenge of her life , the doctor said that chances of saving her leg is still bleak and everything depends upon how the leg heals over the time.

“My daughter- that’s the first thing she asks me,” Henderson said. “‘How’s the leg doing, Dad?’ I do not want to give her bad news.”

-by Bhaskar Raghavendran

Bhaskar is a graduate in Journalism and mass communication from Amity school of communication, Noida. Contact the author at Twitter: bhaskar_ragha

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Judge Order Government Find Separated Children at US-Mexico Border

U.S. government had started implementing its policy of separating families months before it was announced “a very significant event.

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FILE - Christian, from Honduras, recounts his separation from his child at the border during a news conference at the Annunciation House,in El Paso, Texas, June 25, 2018. VOA

A U.S. judge Thursday appeared open to ordering the government to find potentially thousands of additional children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border by the Trump administration, which could greatly expand the scope of a lawsuit challenging the separations.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego called a January report by an internal government watchdog that found the U.S. government had started implementing its policy of separating families months before it was announced “a very significant event.”

The Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a report published earlier this year that the agency had identified many more children in addition to the 2,737 included as part of the class action lawsuit challenging family separations brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last year.

children, judge, US
Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego, July 17, 2018. Sabraw, who ordered children be reunited with their families after being separated at the US-Mexico border, may order the government to expand the scope of the reunifications. VOA

ACLU wants all families reunited

In response to the lawsuit, Sabraw ordered the families identified through a court process to be reunited with their children.

The ACLU has petitioned the judge to expand the class to force the government to do a full accounting of any additional separated children.

The premise of the class action lawsuit, Sabraw said, was the “overarching allegation of the unlawful separation” of families by the Trump administration.

“When there’s an allegation of wrong on this scale, one of the most fundamental obligations of law is to determine the scope of the wrong,” he said. “It is important to recognize we are talking about human beings.”

The administration of President Donald Trump implemented a “zero tolerance” policy to criminally prosecute and jail all illegal border crossers, even those traveling with their children, leading to a wave of separations last year. The policy sparked outrage when it became public, and the backlash led Trump to sign an executive order reversing course June 20, 2018.

In light of the Inspector General’s findings, as well as investigative reporting, Sabraw said, the current June 26, 2018, cut-off date for cases to be part of the lawsuit becomes “very arbitrary.”

‘Other galaxy of a task’

Department of Justice attorney Scott Stewart argued that the ACLU’s request to expand the class would blow the case into an “other galaxy of a task.” The government has argued in court papers that it is too labor intensive to find children who were separated and subsequently released to sponsors before the court order last year.

While most of the outrage last year focused on the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy, the government has continued to separate families on a smaller scale.

ALSO READ: Trump’s Idea to Siphon Money for Border Wall Meets Resistance

In a filing Wednesday, the government said it had separated 245 children at the border between June 26, 2018, and Feb. 5, 2019. The government said 92 percent of these children were separated because of “parent criminality, prosecution, gang affiliation, or other law enforcement purpose.”

Advocates say there is little transparency about the criteria and evidence used to justify ongoing separations. (VOA)