Winnipeg to welcome Yazidi boy held captive by Daesh for three years
Emad Mishko Tamo will reunite with his mother and siblings after a horrifying journey.
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A bigger “Hug Rug” may be required at Winnipeg’s airport this Thursday morning.
Hundreds are expected to be there as 12-year-old Emad Mishko Tamo is reunited with his mother and siblings after a horrifying journey that began when Daesh captured the boy and his Yazidi family in northern Iraq, and subsequently separated them, in August 2014.
“We are expecting about 300 people, maybe even more, to be at the airport to give him an amazing welcome,” said an elated Hadij Hesso, director of the Yazidi Association of Manitoba.
Hesso and others in the Yazidi community immediately sprang into action to get Tamo to Winnipeg after he was rescued by Iraqi forces last month. Pictures of the dust-covered and bloodied boy went viral on social media.
Until then his mother, Nofa Zaghla, who recently came to Canada as a government-sponsored refugee, didn’t know whether her son was dead or alive.
“This is truly a unique story with such a happy ending and to be able to make it all happen in one month is unbelievable,” Hesso said, adding he is grateful to the federal government for expediting the process. “His mother has been crying tears of joy knowing she will soon be with him again.”
One of Tamo’s first requests after he found out he would be coming to Winnipeg was to get a bike. Thanks to Steve Maman and The Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq, a bike is waiting for him when he gets here.
“He is so happy and excited to be with his family again (his mother, four siblings and an uncle) and many celebrations have been planned.”
What they don’t plan to focus on, at least not right away, is what the child went through after his village was invaded by Daesh and he was captured.
“There is no question that he has been traumatized emotionally and physically,” Hesso said. “He is going to require a lot of medical attention because he was badly injured and those emotional scars will not heal overnight.”
“For now, we want to do everything we can to make him feel happy, safe and secure.”
The work being done to save more children like Tamo continues, but Hesso says it’s daunting.
“The sad reality is that Emad is only one of thousands upon thousands of people who are out there who need our help.”