Social media helps parents find Afghan baby lost in Kabul airport chaos

KABUL, 11 Jan 2022:

Sohail Ahmadi was just 40 days old when he became separated from his parents during the chaotic evacuations from Kabul airport following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan last year – but thanks to a social media campaign, he has been reunited with his family.

Crowds of Afghans gathered at Kabul’s international airport after the Taliban swept to power on Aug 15 – with many fearing punishment for collaborating with US-led international forces during the 20-year war.

Sohail’s parents were among the throngs of desperate people trying to board airplanes chartered by the US and European nations amid the crowd crushes and the interminable queues under the blistering sun.

Unable to advance, Sohail’s parents handed the infant child to an American soldier on the other side of a security wall, confident they would be reunited with him when they made it to the airplane.

The plan did not work out. Sohail was found by local taxi driver Hamid Safi, who took the child in. “The child was laying on the ground in a very bad situation,” Safi said.

Safi had originally travelled to the airport with his brother, a former employee at the US Embassy, but decided to return to his home with the child rather than flee Afghanistan.

“I tried to find his parents or relatives but couldn’t. As a father I couldn’t leave him in such hot weather and bad conditions,” he adds. “I took the child home.”

Sohail became another member of Safi’s family, the taxi driver adds.

“For five months I took care of the baby better than my own children, and I took him for medical check ups several times.”

Safi shared a photo of Sohail on Facebook, hoping to locate his parents or other relatives, but as the days ticked away with no leads, the family grew fond of the child.

That was until one day when Safi received the cellphone number of Sohail’s father, now a refugee in the US.

Several months later, Sohail finds himself with his grandparents in Kabul.

“For me it was difficult because it was like losing a child, but in reality it was clear, he had a father and a mother, he had to be with them,” he says, adding that he has visited Sohail three times.

“I love him so much (…) leaving the child with his grandfather was one of the hardest days of my life.”

Mirza Mohammad Qasim Razawi, Sohail’s grandfather, recalls the frenetic day at Kabul airport.

“They handed the child to an American soldier but when they entered the airport they couldn’t find him. My son searched for him for three days, but couldn’t find his child.”

Sohail’s parents eventually left for the US after finding no trace of their son at the airport.

The family is now one step closer to being reunited in the US with the help of the Department of State and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

– EFE