IOM Evacuates Iraqi Child Badly Burned by Masked Men

On 22 August 2007 CNN ran a horrifying story about five-year-old Youssif who was caught by masked men, soaked with gasoline and set on fire outside his home in central Baghdad in January 2007. "They dumped gasoline, burned me, and ran," Youssif told CNN during the interview. The story gripped the world's attention. IOM was contacted by Operation Smile to reach the grief-stricken family to see what could be done. Options were to try operating on the child in Jordan and if that proved too difficult then further treatment inside Iraq was the next option. Treatment in the United States at the time still seemed like a far-fetched option.

Weeks after, an IOM Medical Officer in Baghdad met with the family to deliver the good news. Thousands of CNN viewers wrote to the channel to donate for Youssif's treatment. The Children's Burn Foundation – a non-profit organization based in California that provides support for burn victims – established a fund where CNN viewers could donate and agreed to pay for the transportation for Youssif and his family to come to the United States.

The IOM Medical Officer did a check up on Youssif, prepared his medical records needed for the process and facilitated meetings between the CNN crew and Youssif and his parents, providing a safe location due to the security situation in Baghdad.

By mid September Youssif and his family were flown to the US where he is currently undergoing multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation.

Youssif's progress can be viewed at

IOM's Medical Programme matches Iraqi patients in need of urgent medical attention with pro-bono medical assistance provided by hospitals in the region and abroad and evacuates them for treatment. The Medical Programme provides medical escorts and health assessments for Iraqis returning to Iraq through the AVR Programme. The Programme also assists in medical screening and health assessments for immigration applicants.