Mica Rosenberg, Jonathan Landay, James Mackenzie / Kabul
A toddler boy desperately handed over to a soldier over an airport wall was found in the turmoil of American evacuation in Afghanistan and reunited with his relatives in Kabul on Saturday.
The baby, Soheil Ahmadhi, was only two months old when he went missing on August 19, as thousands of people were rushing to leave Afghanistan when he fell into the Taliban.
Following a Reuters exclusive article published with his photo in November, the baby is in Kabul and a 29-year-old taxi driver named Hamid Safi finds him at the airport and takes him home. I did.
After more than seven weeks of negotiations and petitions, and finally a brief detention by the Taliban police, Safi finally returned the child to his delighted grandfather and other relatives still in Kabul.
They said they were trying to reunite him with their parents and siblings who had evacuated to the United States a few months ago.
During the noisy summer evacuation of Afghanistan, the boy’s father, Mirza Ali Ahmadhi, and his wife, Slaya, who worked as security guards at the U.S. embassy, had their sons crowded as they approached the airport gate on the way. I was afraid that I might be crushed inside. Flight to the United States.
Ahmadhi told Reuters in early November, desperately for the day. He handed Soheil over the airport wall to a uniformed soldier who believed he was American. he.
At that very moment, the Taliban troops will push the crowd back and it will take another 30 minutes before Ahmadhi, his wife, and four other children can get inside.
But by that time the baby wasn’t found anywhere.
Mr Ahmaddy said he desperately searched for his son at the airport and officials said he could have been taken out of the country and could meet again later.
The rest of the family was evacuated — eventually arriving at a military base in Texas. For months, they didn’t know where their son was.
The incident highlights the plight of many parents away from their children when the U.S. military withdrew from the country in a hurry after a 20-year war.
Due to the lack of a US embassy in Afghanistan and the overkill of international organizations, Afghan refugees are having a hard time getting answers about the timing and potential of such a complex reunification.
The US State Department, State Department, and Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday.
On the same day, Ahmadiyya and his family were separated from their baby, Safi slipped through the gates of Kabul Airport after boarding his brother’s family, also set to evacuate.
Safi said he found Sohail crying alone on the ground. After saying he failed to find the baby’s parents inside, he decided to take the baby back to his wife and children. Safi had three daughters and said that her biggest wish before her mother died was to have a son.
At that moment, he decided: If I find his family, I will give him to them. If not, I will raise him myself, “he told Reuters in an interview in late November.
Saffy told Reuters that after he was found, he took him to a doctor for medical examination and immediately incorporated the child into his family. They called the baby Mohamed Abed and posted pictures of all the children together on his Facebook page.
Some of Safi’s neighbors who noticed that they returned from the airport with their baby a few months ago after Reuters talked about a missing child recognized the photo and his whereabouts in a translated version of the article. I posted a comment about.
Ahmadhi asked relatives still in Afghanistan, including his father-in-law, Mohammed Kasem Razawi, 67, who lives in the northeastern part of Badakhshan, to search for Safi and return Sohail to his family.
Razawi said he traveled two days and two nights to the capital to carry gifts such as slaughtered sheep, a few pounds of walnuts and clothing for Safi and his family.
However, Safi refused to release Sohail and insisted he wanted to evacuate Afghanistan with his family. Safi’s brothers who fled to California said Safi and his family had not withheld an application for entry into the United States.
The baby’s family turned to the Red Cross, whose mission is to help reconnect those separated by the international crisis, but said they received little information from the organization. A Red Cross spokesman said he did not comment on individual cases.
Finally, after they felt they had run out of options, Razawi contacted local Taliban police to report the kidnapping. Safi told Reuters that he denied the allegations to the police and was taking care of the baby rather than abducting him.
The complaint was investigated and dismissed, and a local police commander told Reuters that he helped arrange a settlement, including an agreement signed by both parties with a thumbprint. According to Razawi, the baby’s family eventually agreed to indemnify Safi for about 100,000 afghani ($ 950) for the five-month cost of caring for Safi.
“The baby’s grandfather complained to us, we found Hamid, and based on the evidence we had, we recognized the baby,” said the chief area of the local police station. Hamid Maran, the controller, said. “The baby will be handed over to my grandfather, with mutual agreement,” he said on Saturday.
In front of the police and in a lot of tears, the baby was finally returned to his relatives.
Razawi said Safi and his family were overwhelmed by the loss of Sohail. “Hamid and his wife were crying. I cried too, but I assured them that both of you were young. Allah would give you a boy. Not one, but some. From the airport. I thank them for saving their children, “Razawi said.
The baby’s parents told Reuters that they were overjoyed to see the reunion on video chat with their own eyes.
“There are celebrations, dances and songs,” Razawi said. “It’s just like a wedding.”
Ahmadiyya and his wife and other children, who were able to leave the military base and settle in an apartment in Michigan in early December, hope Sohail will be brought to the United States soon.
“We need to return the baby to the mother and father. This is my sole responsibility,” said his grandfather. “My wish is for him to return to them.” — Reuters
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