Hanan arrives in the US for treatment
The journalistic dilemma between observation and intervention loomed large for ITN in Iraq, as the news team reporting on the plight of a young girl burnt in a bombing raid arranged her evacuation to the US for treatment.
ITV News correspondent Tim Rogers, cameraman Brad Vincent and news editor Richard Frediani filmed a report on 16-year-old Hanan Ahmed’s need for additional treatment to the 30 per cent burns she sustained on the second day of the war.
“After we made the report, Tim offered to take her in our vehicle to a hospital, but most had been looted. We took her in and gave her very basic treatment, but she has 30 to 50 per cent burns on her upper body and needed reconstructive surgery really,” said Frediani.
The report, which was also shown in the US by news partner CNN, attracted a deluge of offers of help and treatment for Hanan from hospitals in the UK and US, as well as the attention of a US congressman in Michigan.
“At this stage, we were keen to follow up on this and see whether the US military would try to help,” added Frediani. “Eventually, a hospital in Michigan offered Hanan full care and responsibility for her,
as well as accommodation for any relatives that accompany her.” According to Frediani, ITV News then became the go-between in an e-mail campaign to get the highest levels of the US military to intervene on behalf of Hanan. “The case needed the personal approval of General Tommy Franks, so there were around 200 e-mails being sent between the State Department, US military and UK military officials,” he said.
Michigan congressman Mike Rogers, who is part of a US delegation that travelled to Iraq on 1 May, and whose constituency has one of the highest US Arab populations, got involved in speeding up the immigration process and finally chartered a military plane which flew Hanan, accompanied by an Iraqi doctor, nurse and translator along with injured American soldiers, to the US. As a result of ITV News’s intervention Hanan is the first Iraqi war victim to be flown to the US for treatment.
Frediani said: “It’s a very difficult line: you are human beings, and while journalists are not there to do humanitarian work, we felt we had a responsibility to do what we can do. It was a difficult one, not one you would say in every case ‘this is what you do’.” ITV News’s intervention meant that the bulletin got its story and Hanan will hopefully get her treatment. Rogers and cameraman Vincent flew on to Michigan after Hanan to film a report on 7 May.
lRaeed Amar, a 14-year-old boy flown to Birmingham from Basra for treatment of his burns, died last week.
By Wale Azeez