An Afghan infant who went missing after his desperate parents handed him over to a soldier amid frenzied evacuation efforts outside the Kabul airport over the summer has finally been located.
Sohail Ahmadi had been missing since Aug. 19. Reuters reported on Saturday that the boy has been found after apparently spending the last several months being taken care of by a Kabul taxi driver.
“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 to raise him 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 to his jubilant grandfather and other relatives still in Kabul,” Reuters wrote.
Sohail’s father, who was a security guard at the U.S. Embassy, had handed the baby over the airport wall to a soldier as the family tried to evacuate during the Taliban takeover in the summer. He said he was hoping to protect the baby from being crushed to death in the massive crowd and expected to get him back once they got to the entrance, but by then he was nowhere to be found.
Work is now underway to reunite Sohail with his parents, both of whom are currently in the U.S. after their evacuation from Kabul.
A U.S. government agency worker involved in Sohail’s case told The Daily Beast the government had been involved in efforts to reunite the baby with his family.
“The case of this missing baby was brought to the U.S. government’s attention back in October, more than two months after the child went reportedly missing. After a few weeks of communicating between agencies, government officials grew frustrated when their searches led to dead ends. However, a few remained close to the search until present,” said the caseworker, who asked not to be named as it’s against their organization’s policy to speak to the media about an investigation.
The caseworker added how “frustrating it was that after this case made media attention back in November, we quickly became aware of the baby’s whereabouts, but it didn’t seem like any agency was doing anything to help get the baby back with his family. It seemed like the federal government was waiting on NGOs to step in, but the stress and agony of waiting for an update kept mounting. I am so thrilled that the baby is back with his relatives, but I hope the U.S. government can help get this baby to the United States with his parents where he belongs.”
Dr. Saman Hamidi-Azar, chair of the unaccompanied children task force at Afghan Refugee Relief who got involved with the infant’s case in October, told The Daily Beast, “I am just so grateful for everyone who came together to help bring Sohali closer to reuniting with his parents. I want to give a proper thanks to the actual individuals involved in this process once he is in his parents hands and arms.”
Sohail’s mother, Suraya, who was then living with her husband, Mirza, and their other four children at an Afghan refugee camp at Fort Bliss in Texas and has since resettled to Michigan, spoke to The Daily Beast in November about the anguish she was experiencing being apart from her young child.
“It’s a deep pain and I cannot describe it,” she said. “I feel deep inside the loss and I’m waiting to be brought back to him. I’m praying he comes back to me… it is a nightmare.”
The Daily Beast did not receive comment from the State Department or Sohail’s parents’ at the time of publication.