In the chaos of the American evacuation of Afghanistan, an infant boy was handed in desperation to a soldier across an airport wall. He was found and reunited with his relatives in Kabul on Saturday.
According to a report by The Reuters, Sohail Ahmadi, the baby, was just two months old when he vanished on Aug. 19 as tens of thousands of civilians fled Afghanistan when it fell to the Taliban.
The infant was found in Kabul, where a 29-year-old cab driver named Hamid Safi had spotted him in the airport and taken him home to raise as his own, according to an exclusive Reuters article published in November with his images.
Safi finally handed the toddler over to his ecstatic grandfather and other family in Kabul after more than seven weeks of discussions and pleadings, including a brief imprisonment by Taliban police.
They said they will now try to reconnect him with his parents and siblings, who were evacuated to the United States months ago.
Lost in the crowd to escape Afghanistan
Mirza Ali Ahmadi, the boy’s father, who served as a security guard at the US embassy, and his wife Suraya worried their son would be crushed in the crowd as they approached the airport gates on way to a flight to the United States during the tumultuous Afghan exodus during the summer.
In early November, Ahmadi told Reuters that in his despair, he passed Sohail over the airport wall to a uniformed soldier he thought was an American, fully expecting him to make it the remaining 5 metres (15 feet) to the door to reclaim him.
At that very moment, Taliban forces pushed the crowd back, and Ahmadi, his wife, and their four other children would have to wait another half hour to get inside.
However, the infant had vanished by that time.
The case underlines the anguish of many parents who were separated from their children during the country’s rapid evacuation and withdrawal of US forces after a 20-year conflict in Afghanistan.
Afghan refugees have had difficulty gaining answers on the timing, or even the likelihood, of complex reunifications like this one because there is no US embassy in Afghanistan and international organisations are overburdened.
Wailing alone at the airport
On the same day that Ahmadi and his family were separated from their infant, Safi snuck through the Kabul airport gates after picking up his brother’s family, who were also preparing to escape.
According to Safi, he discovered Sohail wailing on the ground by himself. He took the baby home to his wife and children after attempting unsuccessfully to locate the baby’s parents within. Safi is the father of three daughters and revealed that his mother’s greatest hope before she died was for him to have a boy.
He made the following decision at that point: “This is a baby I’m keeping. I’ll return him to his family if they are discovered. I’ll raise him personally if it doesn’t work out “, In an interview with Reuters, he stated.
After he was discovered, Safi took him to the doctor for a check-up and instantly adopted him into his family, according to Reuters. They named the newborn Mohammad Abed and shared photos of the entire family on his Facebook page.
Following the publication of the Reuters report about the missing child, some of Safi’s neighbours, who had noticed his return from the airport months earlier with a newborn, recognised the images and left comments on a translated version of the piece regarding his whereabouts.
Ahmadi requested his Afghan relatives, notably his father-in-law Mohammad Qasem Razawi, 67, who lives in Badakhshan’s northeastern province, to find Safi and ask him to restore Sohail to the family.
Journey to meet the child
Razawi claimed he journeyed to the capital for two days and two nights, bringing gifts for Safi and his family, including a killed sheep, several pounds of walnuts, and clothing.
Safi, on the other hand, refused to release Sohail, stating that he, too, wished to leave Afghanistan with his family. Safi and his family had no pending applications for US immigration, according to Safi’s brother, who was moved to California.
The baby’s family sought assistance from the Red Cross, which has a declared aim of reuniting people separated by worldwide disasters, but said the organisation provided them with little information. The Red Cross, according to a spokeswoman, does not comment on particular instances.
After exhausting all other alternatives, Razawi contacted the local Taliban police station to report a kidnapping. According to Reuters, Safi informed the authorities that he refuted the claims and that he was caring for the youngster, not kidnapping him.
The allegation was investigated and dismissed, and the local police commander told Reuters that he assisted in the settlement, which included both parties signing an agreement with thumbprints. According to Razawi, the baby’s family eventually agreed to pay Safi approximately 100,000 Afghani ($950) to cover the costs of caring for him for five months.
“The baby’s grandfather complained to us, and we found Hamid, and based on the evidence we had, we recognised the kid,” said Hamid Malang, the local police station’s chief area controller. “The baby will be handed over to his grandfather with both parties in agreement,” he stated on Saturday.
The baby was finally returned to his relatives in the presence of the police and many tears.
Safi and his family, according to Razawi, were crushed by Sohail’s loss. “Hamid and his wife were crying, and I was crying as well, but I reassured them that because they were both young, Allah would provide them with a boy kid. There are several of them. I expressed my gratitude to both of them for rescuing the youngster from the airport “Razawi explained.
Family takes a deep sigh of relief
The baby’s parents told Reuters that they were pleased since they were able to see the reunion over video chat with their own eyes.
“There are festivities, dancing, and singing,” Razawi explained. “It’s exactly like a wedding.”
Now, Ahmadi, his wife, and their other children, who were able to move off the military installation and into an apartment in Michigan in early December, are hoping that Sohail will be brought to the United States soon from Afghanistan.
“We must return the child to his mother and father. This is the only thing I’m accountable for “His granddad expressed himself. “I’d like for him to come back to them.”
(This story was not edited by The North Eastern Chronicle staff and is published from a syndicated feed)