On June 9, 2011, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco made a surprise visit to Monte Carlo’s Cardio-Thoracic Centre where he spent time with a five-year-old Iraqi refugee recovering from heart surgery in Monte Carlo.
According to a press release from the UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency:
The Monaco leader called on Basim Omar Basim last Thursday at the Cardio-Thoracic Centre, where the infant underwent a life-saving operation earlier this year under an accord between UNHCR and the Mediterranean principality’s Office of International Cooperation. The boy had had a first operation in Monaco in 2009, but needed to return for more surgery this year.
Basim was chosen for surgery when two doctors from Monaco, François Bourlon, a cardio-thoracic pediatrician, and orthopaedic surgeon Tristan Lascar, were flown to Damascus by UNHCR and the Monaco government in 2009 to examine Iraqi refugee children in need of medical treatment not available in Syria.
The boy was flown free of charge to Monaco by the Aviation Sans Frontieres charity. Funds for the medical programme were raised in 2008 by various charity groups to mark Prince Albert’s 50th birthday. UNHCR has been handling administrative and logistical aspects of the programme as well as working with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to identify children in need of care.
Basim was born in Syria after his family fled Iraq in 2006 because his father had received several death threats and his shop was bombed. The boy was diagnosed with a genetic heart disease that required surgery in Syria when he was only one. He had a second operation in Monaco in July 2009.
“We are very pleased with this partnership,” said Philippe Leclerc, UNHCR’s representative for France and Monaco. “We hope that more medical evacuations will follow in the near future,” he added. A second refugee child is expected to arrive from Syria in September for treatment at the Cardio-Thoracic Centre.
To read the rest of the press release as well as to view a photo please click the link here.