A 10-year-old Syrian girl, shot in the leg by a sniper in early August, has undergone surgery in Damascus after being evacuated from the besieged town of Madaya following appeals by human rights groups calling for her rescue.
Ghina Wadi’s UK-based aunt, Fadah Jassem, confirmed to Al Jazeera that Wadi had arrived to al-Mouwasat hospital in Damascus after she and her mother were evacuated on Sunday.
“Today, Ghina underwent operation for three hours. She had rods placed in her leg where the bone was too shattered to heal,” Fahad Jassem, Wadi’s aunt, told Al Jazeera on Monday.
“She will of course still need intensive physiotherapy and regular check-ups in the next couple of months to make sure her leg heals well,” said Jassem, adding that Wadi should be able to walk on both legs again.
Wadi was transferred from Madaya to Damascus by a Syrian Arab Red Crescent team on Sunday, after she spent close to two weeks severely wounded by a suspected pro-government sniper that shot her leg on August 2.
The Syrian government was refusing to let Wadi leave for surgery, according the UK-based rights group Amnesty International.
The group launched an online petition calling for Wadi’s evacuation earlier this month, calling on the US and Russia to facilitate the rescue of Wadi. Amnesty released a statement on Sunday confirming that the girl and her mother were escorted “following international pressure”.
“This is clearly a very welcome move that could prove to be a lifeline for Ghina, a brave young girl who was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Magdalena Mughrabi-Talhami, the group’s deputy Middle East and North Africa programme director, said.
“It is appalling that she was left to suffer for days on end before being granted this vital reprieve.”
Wadi was shot in her left leg en route to buy medicine for her mother, along with her eight-year-old sister, who also suffered minor wounds.
The bullet in her leg shattered her thigh, causing a complex bone fracture and severing of a nerve, according to Amnesty.
Wadi was taken to a makeshift field hospital in Madaya, where she had access only to sedatives that would ease her pain for up to 15 minutes at a time.
Her eight-year-old sister, Nagem, will also need an operation to remove shrapnel from her arm, according to Jassem.
“We think it may have been Hezbollah forces who shot her with a sniper at a checkpoint. The town is under the control of the Syrian government, so it may have been either them or Hezbollah. It is not clear,” Neil Sammonds, another Amnesty Syria researcher, told Al Jazeera on Saturday, before Wadi’s evacuation.
Civilians trapped in Madaya have witnessed a severe shortage of medical and aid supplies. The rebel-held town has been under siege by Syrian government forces and Hezbollah fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad for more than a year.
According to the US-based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) group, Madaya’s residents are surrounded by 12,000 landmines and 65 checkpoints manned by snipers, routinely targeting children, women and men.
“Between November 2015 and May 2016, five children died from landmine and sniper injuries in Madaya,” Elise Baker, a research coordinator at PHR, told Al Jazeera on Saturday.
“Medical staff in Madaya knew they could not provide the treatment needed to save these children’s lives and requested evacuations for them. However, their requests were not granted and the children died as a result.”
The town’s only field hospital, lacking surgical supplies, anesthetics and antibiotics needed to heal landmine and sniper wounds, is staffed by two dental students and a veterinarian, according to PHR.
The Syrian conflict, which began with peaceful protests in March 2011 against Assad, has spiralled into a multi-sided civil war.
According to UN estimates, more than 280,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far.