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Exclusive-Baby lost in the chaos of Afghanistan airlift found, returned to family after long ordeal According to Reuters


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© Reuters. Hamid Safi, a 29-year-old taxi driver who found baby Sohail Ahmadi in the airport, cries as he hands Sohail over to his grandfather Mohammad Qasem Razawi in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 8, 2022. REUTERS / Ali Khara

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By Mica Rosenberg, Jonathan Landay and James Mackenzie

KABUL, Afghanistan.

The baby, Sohail Ahmadi, was just two months old when he went missing on August 19 as thousands of people fled Afghanistan as the country fell to the Taliban.

Following an exclusive Reuters story https://www.reuters.com/world/exclusive-baby-handed-us-soldiers-chaos-afghanistan-airlift-still-missing-2021-11-05 published in May 11 with his pictures, The baby lay in Kabul where a 29-year-old taxi driver named Hamid Safi found her at the airport and took her to a foster home.

After more than seven weeks of negotiations and pleas, and ultimately in the custody of Taliban police, Safi finally handed the child over to his bubbly grandfather and other relatives still in Kabul.

They said they will now find a way to reunite him with his parents and siblings, who evacuated months ago to the United States.

During a tumultuous summer evacuation in Afghanistan, Mirza Ali Ahmadi – the boy’s father who used to work as a security guard at the US embassy – and his wife Suraya feared their son would be crushed in the crowd when they approaching the airport gate on the way to a flight to the United States.

Ahmadi told Reuters in early November that in desperation that day he delivered Sohail over the airport wall to a uniformed soldier he believed to be American, fully hoping he would soon. get past the remaining 5 meters (15 feet) to the entrance and claim him back.

At that moment, the Taliban pushed back the crowd and it took another half an hour for Ahmadi, his wife and their four other children to get inside.

But then the baby was nowhere to be found.

Ahmadi said he was desperately searching for his son inside the airport and was informed by officials that he might have been taken out of the country separately and could be reunited with them later.

The rest of the family was evacuated – eventually ending up at a military base in Texas. For months, they didn’t know where their son was.

The case highlights the plight of many parents separated by their children https://www.reuters.com/world/when-are-my-ldren-coming-1300-afghan-children-evacained-us- limbo-2021-11-10 in an attempt to hastily evacuate and withdraw US forces from the country after a 20-year war.

Due to the lack of a U.S. embassy in Afghanistan and the overexpansion of international organizations, Afghan refugees have difficulty finding answers about the timing or likelihood of complicated reunions. like this.

The US Department of Defense, Department of State and Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

STAY AT THE AIRPORT

On the same day Ahmadi and his family were separated at a young age, Safi slipped through the gates of Kabul airport after picking up his brother’s family, who were also preparing to evacuate.

Safi said he saw Sohail alone and crying on the ground. After he said he had unsuccessfully tried to find the parents of the baby inside, he decided to take the child home to his wife and children. Safi has three daughters of his own and said his mother’s biggest wish before her death was for him to have a son.

In that moment, he decided, “I’m keeping this baby. If the family finds it, I’ll give it to them. If not, I’ll raise it myself,” he told Reuters in an interview. consultation at the end of November.

Safi told Reuters he took the child to the doctor for a check-up after being found and quickly brought the child into his family. They called the baby Mohammad Abed and posted pictures of all the kids together on his Facebook (NASDAQ:) page.

After the Reuters story about the missing child came out, some of Safi’s neighbors – who had recognized him returning from the airport a few months earlier with a child – recognized the photos and Post a comment on his whereabouts on a translated version of the article.

Ahmadi asked relatives still in Afghanistan, including his father-in-law Mohammad Qasem Razawi, 67, who lives in the northeastern province of Badakhshan, to search for Safi and ask him to bring Sohail back to his family.

Razawi said he traveled for two days and two nights to the capital to bring gifts – including a slaughtered sheep, several pounds of walnuts and clothes – for Safi and his family.

But Safi refused to release Sohail, insisting he also wanted to be evacuated with his family from Afghanistan. Safi’s brother, who was evacuated to California, said Safi and his family have no pending applications to enter the United States.

The baby’s family sought help from the Red Cross, whose mission is to help bring people divided by international crises, but said they had received little information from it. this position. A spokesman for the Red Cross said it does not comment on individual cases.

Finally, after feeling they had run out of options, Razawi contacted local Taliban police to report a kidnapping. Safi told Reuters he denied the charges to police and said he was taking care of the baby, not kidnapping it.

The lawsuit was investigated and dismissed and the local police chief told Reuters he helped arrange a settlement, which included an agreement signed by both parties. Razawi said the baby’s family eventually agreed to compensate Safi about 100,000 Afghani ($950) for the costs of caring for the boy for five months.

“The baby’s grandfather complained to us and we found Hamid and based on the evidence we had, we recognized the baby,” said Hamid Malang, area controller of the local police station. Phuong said. “With the consent of both parties, the baby will be delivered to its grandfather,” he said on Saturday.

In the presence of the police, and amid many tears, the baby was finally returned to relatives.

Razawi said Safi and his family were devastated by the loss of Sohail. “Hamid and his wife cried, I cried too, but assure them both are young, Allah will bear you a male child. Not one, but many. I thank both of them. for saving the child from the airport,” Razawi said.

The baby’s parents told Reuters they were overjoyed to be able to witness the reunion over video chat first-hand.

“There are celebrations, dancing, singing,” said Razawi. “It’s like a real wedding.”

Now Ahmadi, his wife and other children, who in early December were able to leave the military base and resettled in an apartment in Michigan, hope Sohail will soon be brought to the US.

“We need to take the baby back to his mother and father. This is my sole responsibility,” the boy’s grandfather said. “My wish is that he should go back to them.”



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