After a long ordeal … the return of a child lost in the chaos of the evacuation from Kabul

A young boy was reunited with his relatives in Kabul on Saturday, after he was found missing when his father handed him over to a soldier through the airport fence in the chaos of the US evacuation from Afghanistan.

Little Sohail Ahmadi was only two months old when he was separated from his family on August 19, when thousands of people flocked to try to leave Afghanistan after he fell. in hand to the Taliban.

Following a report released by “Reuters” last November with pictures of the missing child, he found himself in Kabul, where he was found by a taxi driver named Hamed Safi (29) at the airport and took him home. his to raise him.

After more than seven weeks of negotiations and pleading, and even the brief arrest of Safi by the Taliban, the taxi driver finally agreed to return the baby to his grandfather and relatives still in Kabul, with great joy.

The boy’s parents said they would now work for him to reunite with his parents and siblings who were evacuated to the United States months ago.

During the turmoil that accompanied the evacuation from Afghanistan over the summer, Mirza Ali Ahmadi, the boy’s father who worked as a security guard at the American embassy, ​​and his wife, Soraya, feared their son would stay. crushed in the crowd as they approached the airport gates on their way to board a flight to the United States.

In desperation that day, Mirza Ali Ahmadi told Reuters in early November that she handed Sohail over the airport fence to an American soldier. in the one who believed and fully expected to be able to cross the remaining five meters to the gate to retrieve it.

At that moment, Taliban forces pushed the crowd back for another half hour before Ahmadi, his wife and four other children could enter. But they found no trace of the baby.

Ahmadi said she desperately searched for her son at the airport and officials suggested he had already been taken out of the country on a separate flight and, in otherwise, it could be reunited with the family in following.

The rest of the family was evacuated and eventually finished in a military base in Texas. Months went by without the family knowing of their son’s fate.

This case puts in highlights the plight of many parents separated from their children during the chaos of the emergency evacuation process and the withdrawal of US forces from the country after a 20-year war.

Due to the absence of a US embassy in Afghanistan and the high pressure on international organizations, Afghan refugees have encountered difficulties in obtaining answers to their questions about the timing or possibility of reuniting with their family members.

Alone in airport

The same day in where Ahmadi and his family were separated by the child, the driver Safi slipped through the gates of the Kabul airport after leaving his brother’s family, also scheduled to be evacuated.

Safi said she found Sohail crying alone on the floor. After failing to find the child’s parents inside the airport, he decided to take him back to the house where he lives with his wife and children. Safi has three daughters and said her mother’s greatest wish before her death was to have a child.

“At that moment, I decided to keep this baby,” Safi told Reuters in an interview at the end of November. And if his family appears, I’ll give it to him. And if he doesn’t show up, I’ll raise him. “

Safi told Reuters she took the baby to a doctor for examination after it was found, and soon the baby became a member of the family.

The family called the baby Muhammad Abed and posted his photos with those of the children on a Facebook page.

After the publication of the Reuters report on the missing child, some of Safi’s neighbors, who noticed his return from the airport months ago with a baby, got to know the photos and posted comments on his whereabouts on a translated copy of the report. agency report.

Ahmadi asked his relatives who reside in Afghanistan, including his father-in-law, Muhammad Qasim Rizvi, 67, who lives in the northeastern province of Badakhshan, to seek Safi and ask for the child to be returned to his family.

Rizvi said he traveled for two days and nights in the capital, bringing gifts, including a slaughtered lamb, several kilograms of nuts and some clothes for Safi and his family.

But Safi refused to abandon Sohail, insisting that he also wanted to evacuate him and his family from Afghanistan. For its part, Safi’s brother, who was evacuated in California, said Safi and his family have not applied to enter the United States.

The child’s family has asked the Red Cross for help, whose goals include reuniting with their international crisis team, but said they received little information from them.

Eventually, hearing that all options were exhausted, Razavi called the local Taliban police to report the kidnapping of the child. Safi told Reuters he denied the allegations in his statements to the police, as he confirmed that he was taking care of the baby and had not kidnapped him.

Police investigated the report, and the local police chief told Reuters he had helped arrange a deal that included an agreement signed by both sides with fingerprints. For his part, Razavi said, the baby’s family eventually agreed to pay 100,000 net Afghans (US $ 950) for the expenses they spent on caring for the baby over the course of five months.

In the presence of the police and in tears, the child finally returned to his relatives on Saturday.

Razavi said Safi and his family were deeply saddened by the loss of Sohail. He added, “Hamed and his wife were crying. I cried too. But I reassured them by saying that you are young and God will give you a child. Not just one, but a number of children. I thanked them for saving the child. baby from the airport. “

The child’s parents told Reuters they were delighted when we were able to see him and attend the family reunion via video call.

Now Ahmadi, his wife and their children are hoping Sohail will soon be moved to live with them in the United States, after they were able to move from the military base to live in early December. in an apartment in Michigan.

After a long ordeal … the return of a child lost in the chaos of the evacuation from Kabul

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