Editor’s note: A previous version of this story named the boy as Emad Zaghla. In fact, his name is Emad Tammo, Zaghla is the last name of his mother.
One day after a Winnipeg family shared videos of a 12 year-old boy pleading with Canada to reunite him with his mom, immigration officials revealed they were working on his claim.
Emad Tammo was separated from his family in 2014 after he, his parents and five siblings were captured by ISIS militants in northern Iraq.
“For the first nine months they were with me, then they were taken away,” Nofa Zaghla said of her husband and two sons.
“After that, for about three years, I had no idea where they were….we didn’t know if they were dead, we didn’t know if they were alive.”
An airstrike in 2016 allowed Zaghla and four of her children to escape captivity and in January they moved to Canada, knowing the would likely never see the rest of their family again.
But over the weekend a picture of her son, thin and covered in cuts, but alive, appeared on social media. He had recently been liberated from ISIS and Iraqi soldiers had posted his photo online in hopes of re-uniting him with his family. A phone call later confirmed it was Zaghla’s son.
“All I wanted was to hear his voice,” Zaghla said. “I was so happy.”
Now the push is on to try and bring the boy to Canada.
On Thursday the Yazidi Association of Manitoba made a public plea to Ottawa to fast-track the claim.
“It’s very simple,” Nour Ali said. “Make a call to the Canadian Embassy in Jordan. Bring him here.”
In a statement sent to Global News on Thursday, an immigration official said they were aware of the situation and “acting accordingly” on the claim.
“All Yazidi cases are being expedited,” a spokesperson with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada wrote.
The department also indicted there is a provision for refugees before they arrive to Canada where they can submit an application for a spouse or dependent children one year after coming to Canada.
“We would also like to remind you that the Yazidi are a very vulnerable population, all of whom have been subjected to some form of serious abuse….We are conscious of not doing anything that may re-victimize them or re-traumatize them, as they begin their new lives here in Canada,” the statement read.
Two videos showing Emad wounded, but smiling, have been shared. In one the boy can be heard saying “I want to go to my mom in Canada.”
With files from Allison Vuchnich