A Yazidi refugee who escaped Iraq with four of her six sons is pleading for Canadian officials to reunite her with her 12-year-old son Emad, whom she only recently learned is alive.
An Islamic State attack in August 2014 separated Nofa Mihlo Zaghla from two of her sons and her husband. She and her four other sons escaped to Winnipeg in February.
An image of Emad surfaced online last week, showing the boy dazed, emaciated and covered in dust. Later, a video emerged showing Emad pleading to come to Canada.
Zaghla told CTV Winnipeg through a Kurdish translator Friday that she was so surprised when she saw her son that she “couldn’t breathe.”
“I didn’t think he would make it out alive,” she said. “I thought for sure he would die before I get to see him.”
Zaghla says Emad is safe for now in a refugee camp with an uncle, but malnourished and badly injured, with a torn kidney and a bullet wound on the arm.
They spoke on the phone and he pleaded for her to come and get him, she said.
“I’m thankful for everything that was done for me,” Zaghla said. “I hope they will do the same for Emad and bring him here to me.”
The federal government committed in February to resettling 1,200 members of the Yazidi religious minority, who were targeted by ISIS in what has been described as a genocide.
An immigration spokesperson said that all Yazidi cases are being expedited and those who are resettled have one year to submit an application to bring a spouse or children to Canada.
As for her husband and oldest son, Zaghla believes they may still be held in captivity by ISIS.
She said it is very difficult to even speak about, “but I feel the need because we need Emad.”
With a report from CTV Winnipeg’s Josh Crabb