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Pakistani schoolboy seeks asylum for shrapnel surgery
A 12-YEAR-OLD boy from Pakistan is seeking asylum in Spain so he can be operated on for shrapnel lodged in his head which has left him paralysed down the right side of his body.
Jonathan was just five when a bomb went off outside his school, but according to Maite – a Spanish friend of the family – hospitals in Pakistan refuse to treat him because his surname gives away the fact that he is Christian and not Muslim.
His aunt, uncle and cousin Silvia have been living in Spain for five years after successfully claiming asylum on the grounds of religious persecution, and now they hope their nephew will be able to join them.
The only basis for asylum is on the same grounds as Jonathan's relatives sought refugee status, otherwise the applicant has to be a victim of terrorism.
Silvia says this makes their quest 'challenging', and that their only recourse is to obtain a medical report from a Spanish hospital confirming that they would operate on Jonathan if he was brought to Spain.
She and Maite have set up a petition on Change.org.
They say if Jonathan does not have the operation soon, he will eventually become completely disabled as he already cannot move his right leg and arm.
At the time of the explosion, surgeons in Pakistan removed pieces of bone from his head which had shattered, but said he was still too little for them to operate to extract the shrapnel.
Recently, Jonathan's mother had an operation, which went wrong due to 'incorrect procedures' and led to her having to spend 30 days in intensive care, which cost the family the equivalent of €30,000.
As a result, they are now 'ruined' and cannot afford to pay for private treatment – even if they could find a hospital in Pakistan willing to provide service for a child from a family of Christian descent.
Jonathan would need to be accompanied by his parents in Spain, although their stay may only need to be temporary.
They cannot travel to the country of their own free will, since Pakistani authorities place numerous restrictions on Christians which prevent them leaving.
At the time of publication, the petition had nearly 108,000 signatures.
To find it, search 'Jonathan' and 'metralla' ('shrapnel') on the website Change.org, and it will appear as the only result.
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