They Handed Their Baby Over the Fence. 2 Months Later, No Word

Afghan mom and dad handed infant to US troops at Kabul airport in August, haven't seen baby since
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2021 8:30 AM CST
Baby Handed Off to US Troops in Kabul Still Missing
In this Aug. 16, 2021, file photo, hundreds of people gather at the perimeter of the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Shekib Rahmani, File)

On Aug. 19, Mirza Ali Ahmadi, his wife, and five children headed to the Kabul airport, hoping to flee the country as the Taliban wrested control of Afghanistan. Of the family of seven, however, just six ended up on an evacuation flight to Qatar, then to Germany and the US, after their 2-month-old infant went missing during the day's chaos. Ahmadi, who worked for the US Embassy as a security guard for a decade, tells Reuters his son, Sohail, still hasn't been located more than two months later, pleading with "every person he comes across" to help him find his son. The family's ordeal began when they showed up at the Hamid Karzai International Airport that August day, where they found hundreds of others trying to evacuate.

Amid the crowd surge, Ahmadi and his wife feared their baby would get crushed. Just then, from the other side of the fence, a US soldier asked if they needed help, and so they handed the baby over the top, thinking they'd get to the entrance a few feet away within minutes. It took more than half an hour, though, and when they got inside, there was no trace of Sohail. First a military commander—whose name Ahmadi didn't get because of the language barrier—said Sohail might have been taken to an area for children; the baby wasn't there. Then a civilian official told him there were no "resources" to handle babies at the airport, and that Sohail had likely been evacuated on his own.

"Unfortunately, no one can find the child," a US government official now tells Reuters. Spokespersons for both the Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security, which is managing resettlement efforts, deflected questions about the case to the State Department, which said in a statement to the Hill that "we are committed to ensuring the protection of unaccompanied children. ... The US government is aware of this case and we are working with our international partners and the international community to explore every avenue to locate the child."

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The agency notes that an international Amber Alert has been issued for Sohail via the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Meanwhile, Ali and his family are waiting anxiously for news from Texas' Fort Bliss as they wait to be resettled. Ali's wife, Suraya, says she cries constantly and that her other four children, ages 3 through 17, remain upset about their missing sibling. "All I am doing is thinking about my child," she tells Reuters through a translator. "Everyone that is calling me ... [comforts] me and say, 'Don't worry, God is kind, your son will be found.'" (More Afghanistan stories.)

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