Months after the image traveled the world as a symbol of the violent and desperate flight of thousands of Afghans from the Taliban in Kabul, The baby desperately handed over to a soldier through an airport wall in the chaos of the US evacuation from Afghanistan has been found and has been reunited with relatives in the Afghan capital.
The small Sohail Ahmadi was only two months old when she disappeared on 19 August, when thousands of people rushed to leave Afghanistan when they fell into the hands of the Taliban.
During the tumultuous Afghan evacuation of the summer, Mirza Ali Ahmadi – the boy’s father, who had worked as a security guard at the US embassy – and his wife Suraya feared their son would be crushed by the crowd. as they approached the airport gates on their way to a flight to the United States.
In your despair He handed Sohail over the airport wall to a uniformed soldier who he believed to be an American, in the full hope that he would soon make it through the remaining 5 meters to the entrance to claim him.
Just then, the Taliban forces pushed the crowd back and it was another half hour before Ahmadi, his wife and their four other children could enter.
But by then the baby was nowhere to be found.
Ahmadi desperately searched for his son inside the airport and was told by officials that he had probably been taken out of the country separately. and that they could meet with them later.
The rest of the family was evacuated and ended up at a Texas military base. For months they did not know where their little one was.
On the same day that Ahmadi and his family were separated from their baby, a 29-year-old taxi driver named Hamid Safi had sneaked through the gates of Kabul airport after taking his brother’s family, who was also to be evacuated. At that moment he found Sohail alone and crying on the ground. He claims that he tried to locate the baby’s parents but, failing to do so, he decided to take the child home to his wife and children. Safi has three daughters and said that her mother’s greatest wish before she died was for her to have a child.
“I decided to keep the baby and raise it as my own.”he told Reuters in an interview in late November.
Safi said she took him to the doctor for a check-up after he was found and that she quickly incorporated the boy into her family. They named the baby Mohammad Abed and posted photos of all the children together on their Facebook page.
After extensive media coverage with photos of the missing child was published last NovemberSafi neighbors – who had noticed his return from the airport months earlier with a baby – recognized him and published comments about his whereabouts in a translated version of the Reuters article.
Ahmadi asked his relatives still in Afghanistan, including his father-in-law Mohammad Qasem Razawi, 67, who lives in the northeastern province of Badakhshan, to find Safi and ask him to return Sohail to the family.
Razawi said he traveled two days and two nights to the capital with gifts – including a slaughtered sheep, several pounds of walnuts and clothing – for Safi and her family.
But Safi refused to release Sohail, insisting that he also wanted to be evacuated from Afghanistan with his family.
Finally, after feeling that they had run out of options, Razawi contacted the local Taliban police to report a kidnapping. Safi told Reuters he denied the allegations to police and said he was taking care of the baby, not abducting him.
The complaint was investigated, and the local police commander told Reuters that he helped reach an agreement, which included an agreement signed with fingerprints by both parties. And the baby’s family ultimately agreed to compensate Safi with about 100,000 Afghans ($ 950) for the expenses incurred in caring for him for five months.
“The baby’s grandfather made the complaint and based on the evidence we had, we recognized the baby,” said Hamid Malang, chief zone controller at the local police station.
In the presence of the police, and between many tears, The baby was finally returned to his relatives yesterday, Saturday, January 8.
Razawi said Safi and her family were devastated by the loss of Sohail. “Hamid and his wife were crying, I also wept, but I assured them that they are both young, Allah will give them a male child. Not one, but several. I thanked both of them for saving the boy from the airport, ”Razawi said.
The baby’s parents were able to see the reunion with their own eyes through a video chat. “There are celebrations, dances, songs,” Razawi said. “It’s like a real wedding.”
Now Ahmadi, his wife and their other children, who were able to leave the military base in early December and relocate to an apartment in Michigan, hope that Sohail will soon arrive in the United States.
“We have to return the baby to its mother and father. This is my only responsibility, ”said his grandfather. “My wish is that you return to them.”
Happy with him being reunited, they have already begun to plan how to reunite him with his parents and siblings, who were evacuated months ago to the United States.
The case highlighted the plight of many parents separated from their children during the hasty evacuation and withdrawal of US forces from the country after 20 years of war.
With no American embassy in Afghanistan and with international organizations overwhelmed, Afghan refugees have struggled to get answers about the timing, or the possibility, of complex reunifications like this one. “We are working to reunify the family,” said a State Department official.
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