Afghan baby returned to family after airlift chaos

Hamid Safi, a taxi driver who found Sohail Ahmadi on the ground at Kabul airport and tracked down the family, kisses Sohail, who was separated from his parents at the airport in the chaos of the US evacuation of Afghanistan in August 2021, at Sohail's grandfather's house in Kabul on Jan 9, 2022. (MOHD RASFAN / AFP)

KABUL-A baby lost during the chaotic evacuation of tens of thousands of Afghans at Kabul airport has been reunited with his relatives after five months, said his elated grandfather.

The boy's father handed then 2-month-old Sohail Ahmadi to a foreign soldier among jostling crowds desperate to flee after the Taliban seized the capital in mid-August.

The pair separated and what happened next is unclear, but taxi driver Hamid Safi said he found the baby crying and alone on the floor of the airport the same day.

"I took him to some women to breastfeed him, but they would not… I kept looking for his family," said Safi, who had gone to the airport to help his brother with evacuation.

"I then called my wife and she said to bring the baby home."

The couple said they kept searching for the boy's parents but on failing to find them, gave him the name Mohammad Abed and began to care for him.

"If we had not found his family, we would have then protected and raised him as our own child," Safi, 29, told Agence France-Presse.

Sohail's father Mirza Ali Ahmadi searched for his missing son for three days at the airport, before finally choosing to board a flight to the United States with his wife and four other children.

Kabul evacuation

Kabul's only airport was trashed in August when tens of thousands of people scrambled to evacuate on any available flight as the US wrapped up their withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of war.

It was only days ago that Sohail's relatives were tracked down in Kabul with the help of social media and police, and the boy was handed to his grandfather in a heart-wrenching goodbye for the couple and their three daughters.

"I felt responsible for him like a mother," said Safi's wife Farimah.

On Sunday, Sohail's grandfather Mirza Mohammad Qasemi invited the Safi family to his home to spend time with the boy, who was showered with affection. "They looked after him for five months and were very attached to him," he said.

Qasemi, who said he too had been searching for his grandson, is excited that Sohail will now be able to join his parents in the US.

Agencies via Xinhua