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Iraqi girl arrives here for cancer treatment

Wednesday, August 16, 2000

By The Associated Press

A 6-year-old girl who has become a symbol for Iraqis living under sanctions arrived at Pittsburgh International Airport yesterday afternoon and could remain in the region for several weeks while being treated for cancer.

Mariam Hamza landed in Pittsburgh with her grandmother, Fatin Hamid, on a flight from New York City. Royal Jordanian Airlines arranged a free flight for them from Amman, Jordan, to New York, said Mark Clement, a spokesman for the religious Bruderhof Community in Farmington, Fayette County, where the girl and her grandmother will stay.

Mariam was granted a visa by the U.S. Embassy in Jordan following several appeals from American congressmen and humanitarian groups, said a statement from the Mariam Appeal Campaign.

Fawaz Zureikat, the Jordanian chairman of the campaign, said the embassy approved the visas for humanitarian reasons despite sanctions on Iraq.

The girl first came to international attention when she was treated for leukemia in Scotland in 1998.

Her treatment was initiated by George Galloway, a member of the British Parliament, who spotted her in a Baghdad hospital during a trip designed to publicize the effects of sanctions on ordinary Iraqis.

A pediatrician in Greensburg, Ali Aboosi, has donated his services. Mariam is expected to receive further diagnostic evaluations at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Galloway launched the Mariam Appeal Campaign last year and toured Europe, North Africa and the Middle East on a double-deck bus to highlight the plight of Iraqis under U.N. sanctions imposed on the country for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

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