An infant boy handed in desperation to a soldier across an airport wall in the chaos of the American evacuation of Afghanistan has been found and reunited with his relatives in Kabul.
The baby, Sohail Ahmadi, was just two months old when he
went missing on August 19 as thousands of people rushed to leave
Afghanistan as it fell to the Taliban.
The baby was located in Kabul where a 29-year-old taxi driver named Hamid Safi had found him in the airport and took him home to raise as his own.
After more than seven weeks of negotiations and pleas, and
ultimately a brief detention by Taliban police, Safi finally
handed the child back on Saturday to his jubilant grandfather and other
relatives still in Kabul.
They said they would now seek to have him reunited with his
parents and siblings who were evacuated months ago to the United
During the tumultuous Afghan evacuation,
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 get crushed in the crowd as they neared the airport gates
en route to a flight to the US.
Ahmadi told Reuters in early November in his desperation
that day, he handed Sohail over the airport wall to a uniformed
soldier who he believed to be an American, fully expecting he
would soon make it the remaining five metres to the
entrance to reclaim him.
Just at that moment, Taliban forces pushed the crowd back
and it would be another half an hour before Ahmadi, his wife and
their four other children were able to get inside.
But by then the baby was nowhere to be found.
Ahmadi said he searched desperately for his son inside the
airport and was told by officials that he had likely been taken
out of the country separately and could be reunited with them
The rest of the family was evacuated – eventually ending up
at a military base in Texas. For months they had no idea where
their son was.
The case highlights the plight of many parents separated
from their children during the hasty evacuation effort and withdrawal of US forces from the country after a 20-year war.
With no US embassy in Afghanistan and international
organisations overstretched, Afghan refugees have had trouble
getting answers on the timing, or possibility, of complex
reunifications like this one.
On the same day Ahmadi and his family were separated from their baby, Safi had slipped through the Kabul airport gates after giving a ride to his brother’s family who were also set to evacuate.
Safi said he found Sohail alone and crying on the ground.
After he said he unsuccessfully tried to locate the baby’s
parents inside, he decided to take the infant home to his wife
Safi has three daughters of his own and said his
mother’s greatest wish before she died was for him to have a
In that moment he decided: “I am keeping this baby. If his
family is found, I will give him to them. If not, I will raise
him myself,” he told Reuters in an interview in late November.