Apr. 29, 2005 – After treating an Iraqi girl for leg wounds caused by an American cluster bomb during the 2003 invasion, Belgian doctors sent the $66,650 bill for her treatments to the US embassy.
"We haven't heard from them yet," Bert De Belder, coordinator of Medical Aid for the Third World, a relief organization that brought the girl to Belgium, told Reuters. De Belder said he sent the bill to the US embassy because international law dictates that an occupying force is responsible for the well being of the people in the territory it occupies.
The girl, 15-year-old Hiba Kassim, endured five operations and weeks of physiotherapy in Belgium. She is able to walk again, but with a slight limp. According to De Belderâ€™s group, Kassim was wounded by a cluster bomb that also killed her brother in Baghdad in 2003.
In a letter to Ambassador Tom Korologos, De Belder wrote, "We hold the US government accountable for the serious physical and psychological harm done to Hiba Kassim." In addition to the cluster bomb itself, De Belder wrote that his organization blames the US for failing to provide medical care to Kassim or supply Iraqi civilian facilities with the resources to do so themselves.
US embassy officials have not commented on the bill.