On 28 April, the ICRC repatriated a released civilian internee from Iraq to his native Palestinian village in the West Bank.
The last time Ibrahim (not his real name) had seen any of his relatives was when his parents visited him while he was detained near Baghdad three years ago. Following the coalition-led invasion of Iraq, Ibrahim’s parents lost track of their son. A few months ago, they walked into the ICRC’s Jerusalem office and asked for help finding out where he was.
ICRC detention delegates had registered and visited Ibrahim in southern Iraq, and the family was soon informed of his whereabouts. When Ibrahim’s release date was announced, the ICRC coordinated his safe return to Anata, a small West Bank village near Ramallah, with the coalition in Iraq and the Jordanian and Israeli authorities.
On 28 April, Ibrahim boarded an ICRC aircraft in Basra. After he landed in Amman, delegates accompanied him to King Hussein Bridge, between Jordan and the Palestinian territories. There he was placed in the care of Jerusalem-based ICRC delegates and, after customs formalities, driven to Anata.
Ibrahim and the two ICRC delegates reached the village early in the evening. As they parked in front of the family home, fireworks started to explode high in the sky. Ibrahim’s wife, parents and brothers, along with over 100 other family members and friends, were waiting. Some were shouting, others were laughing. All had tears in their eyes. There, amid the confusion, Ibrahim saw his five-year old daughter for the first time.
The delegates were then invited to a very special meal in the family home. Emotional but dignified, Ibrahim gave a long speech thanking the ICRC for its efforts. Few in the audience were left unmoved. “As we were leaving, Ibrahim was holding his daughter,” remembers Johann, one of the delegates present in Anata. “I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to help them.”