Relentless efforts and dedicated contribution by Qatar, particularly its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Afghanistan’s evacuation process has won global appreciation.
These efforts are still under way as two Qatar Airways chartered planes evacuated recently hundreds of people from Afghanistan and brought them to Doha.
In this context, a story of a three-year old boy who was separated from his family in the terror attack on Kabul Airport on August 26 and airlifted on August 28 to Doha has drawn global attention.
The boy Ali* spent two weeks in Qatar where he was not only treated with utmost care but Qatari authorities also found his father who has been living in Canada for the last two years. Eventually, the boy was reunited with his father in Ontario on Monday (September 13), according to the Canadian newspaper ‘The Globe and Mail’.
The newspaper reported that Ali had been stranded alone for more than two weeks in an orphanage in Qatar after narrowly escaping a suicide bombing at Kabul’s airport that killed at least 169 Afghan people and 13 US soldiers.
He was airlifted out of Kabul with other refugees on August 28 to Doha. The child would never have been evacuated were it not for a 17-year-old who shepherded him away from the chaos during the airport explosion, according to a statement from Qatar's foreign ministry.
The boy, having seen a child among the mass panic and crowds, acted heroically under difficult circumstances and decided to bear responsibility for the child, despite being a minor himself, the ministry said.
Assistant Foreign Minister H E Lolwah Al Khater said in a tweet yesterday: “Ali was our special guest for the past few weeks after he was separated from his mother during the Kabul airport explosion. Working with the Canada embassy, we identified his father & they’ve been reunited. Best of luck Ali, we will all miss you here, we hope you come back to visit.”
The child finally met his father Sharif* at Toronto’s Pearson Airport thanks to an effort coordinated by the UN and the Canadian and Qatari governments.
Ali’s father Sharif, who ran a dried fruit business in Afghanistan before coming to Canada two years ago, had been trying to find out what happened to his son after the child was separated from his family.
Minutes after embracing his child, he relayed through an interpreter that he had no words to convey his joy, ‘The Globe and Mail’ reported.
Hours before his son arrived, he told the newspaper that he had had no sleep for two weeks.
Ali’s mother Khadija* told The Globe over text message this week that she initially thought all her children —including Ali — were killed that day, but then her two nephews re-emerged at the airport with four of their cousins.
“When the blast is happening, all people are confused. The people went everywhere. I didn’t know where were my children,” wrote Khadija, who stayed up past 4am yesterday to keep updated on Ali’s arrival.
Asked about Sharif and Ali’s family in Afghanistan, a senior official in Qatar’s foreign ministry said his government would help if asked.
*NAMES CHANGED TO PROTECT IDENTITIES