An Afghan family handed their baby, Sohail, to a US soldier at the Kabul airport in August.
Months later, they still haven’t found their infant, even after being evacuated to the US.
“All I am doing is thinking about my child,” Suraya Ahmadi told Reuters.
It’s been nearly three months since Mirza Ali Ahmadi and his wife Suraya have seen their baby Sohail.
Ahmadi, Suraya, their five children, and scores of other Afghan citizens were gathered outside the Kabul airport on August 19 as US troops facilitated a chaotic military and civilian pull-out amid the Taliban’s hasty takeover, the parents told Reuters earlier this month.
The crowd was growing fast and the parents of then-two-month-old Sohail feared the infant would become crushed in the disarray. So when a US soldier standing behind a tall fence asked the couple if they needed any help, Ahmadi and his wife made a quick decision: They handed their child to the American, believing they would be reunited with him monetarily once they reached the entrance just 16 feet away, according to the outlet.
But it was at that very moment, Ahmadi said, that the Taliban began shoving back hundreds of the evacuees, delaying the family’s ability to reach the other side of the airport fence by more than half-an-hour. When they finally got inside, Sohail was gone. They couldn’t find the baby anywhere, Ahmadi told Reuters.
Ahmadi, who said he worked as a security guard in the US embassy for a decade, asked any official he could find about his missing son, relying on his Afghan colleagues to help translate. His search went on for hours. And then days.
I spoke to maybe more than 20 people,” Ahmadi told Reuters. “Every officer – military or civilian – I came across I was asking about my baby.”
Ahmadi told the outlet that he saw other families handing their babies to US troops amid the airlift. Video footage of one such child being passed over the airport fence made headlines earlier this year. That baby was eventually reunited with her parents.
Ahmadi said a civilian official told him that Sohail may have been evacuated by himself because of the imminent danger at the airport.
Finally, three days later, the family was evacuated on a flight to Qatar and then to Germany, according to the outlet. Ahmadi, 35, Suraya, 32, and their other children, 3, 6, 9, and 17 years old, eventually landed in the US, where they’re now awaiting resettlement at Fort Bliss in Texas.
Since landing in the US, the family has continued to search for Sohail, Ahmadi told Reuters, asking any aid worker or official if they’ve heard rumblings of a parentless child.
“Everyone promises they will do their best, but they are just promises,” he said.
A spokesperson for the State Department told Insider that the government is aware of Sohail’s case, and is working with international partners to “explore every avenue to locate the child,” including having issued an international amber alert. Meanwhile, an Afghan refugee support group is circulating a “Missing Baby” sign featuring Sohail’s picture.
Suraya told Reuters that she spends most of her time crying in Sohail’s absence.
“All I am doing is thinking about my child,” she said. “Everyone that is calling me, my mother, my father, my sister, they all comfort me and say ‘don’t worry, God is kind, your son will be found.'”
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