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This article was published 18/8/2017 (1246 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Emad Mishko Tamo had three wishes: to be reunited with his mother, to be brought to Canada and to get a new bicycle.
He now has all three.
Yazidi Canadians in Winnipeg say the 12-year-old who landed in Winnipeg on Thursday to be reunited with his family three years after being captured as a hostage of the Islamic State group is getting used to his new home, quietly and privately.
Apart from at least one visit to a doctor — during his ordeal, the boy was shot in the arm and cut by shrapnel on the right side of his stomach — Emad spent the last couple of days with his mother, Nofa Mihlo Rafo, his uncle and four siblings in their apartment.
"Since he got home, we have given him full privacy, for him, his mom and his family. We have not reached out to them, asked them any questions or anything like that," Hadji Hesso, spokesman for the Yazidi Association of Manitoba, said Friday.
"We just want him to relax and rest and have a meal from his mom’s hands, to be with his brother and sister. He did go see the doctor and was given some medical attention, a medical examination, because he was shot in the right-hand side.
"He’s doing OK. He was traumatized, of course. We want to give him some privacy. We don’t want to interfere with anything, ask him for pictures or whatever, and just to see how he does."
Shortly after reaching his mother’s apartment, a snapshot on the British Broadcasting Corporation website showed the small, slight boy looking tired but proud, standing and holding the handlebars of a new mountain bike.
The boy’s miraculous story drew attention worldwide.
The immigrant group worked with the Kurdish Initiative for Refugees, the Winnipeg Friends of Israel and the Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq, to press Ottawa to expedite the boy’s refugee application.
The new bike was reported to be a gift from Steve Maman, the Montreal businessman who heads the group to free Yazidi and Christian children.
The next few weeks will give Emad a chance to acclimatize quietly to his new life as a boy in Canada, Hesso said.
Emad emerged at the Richardson International Airport arrivals lounge to full-court press coverage and a celebration with dozens of local members of the Yazidi community after an initial private reunion with family.
The boy entered his new life in Canada to the sound of a crowd cheering, clapping and singing, as camera shutters and lights clicked and flashed. Emad walked slowly, at times with a smile spread across his face, before saying, "Thank you, Canada."
That may be his first English phrase.
Hesso said he and other Yazidi immigrants took a few moments of the private reunion to prepare Emad for the celebration and to teach him to say, "Thank you, Canada."
Emad arrived here barely a month after a relative spotted a photo of the boy, frail and injured, sitting in a jeep after Iraqi troops liberated him in Mosul from his Islamic State captors. The photo flashed through social media, the relative alerted Emad’s mother and things moved swiftly after that.
Until that time, Emad’s mother and his four siblings, government-sponsored refugees living in Winnipeg, had no idea if Emad was still alive.
Rafo had been separated from her husband and two eldest boys after the Islamic State captured their town in northern Iraq in 2014 during an offensive into the region on Aug. 3, which displaced tens of thousands of Yazidis — an ethno-religious group persecuted by the Islamic State, who view them as heretics.
With the reunion now a reality, priorities turn to more prosaic concerns.
"The next step, the goal, is to register him in school," Hesso said.
"And, Emad has not been in school for the last three years, remember. So he is going to be trying to catch up with his age group."
"We hope Emad will be an ambassador for many kids, Yazidi children who struggle to live. There are thousands of them like Emad living in refugee camps outside Iraq in Turkish camps and inside," Hesso said.
There are believed to be almost 900 children and about 3,500 women and girls in the hands of the Islamic State being used as sex slaves.
Canada has committed to bringing 1,200 vulnerable Yazidi women, children and other refugees to Canada this year. Ottawa reported 600 Yazidis are now in the country.
After the cameras trailed Emad out the door, another flight brought two more Yazidi families — 14 people — to Winnipeg Thursday.