The fate of Afghan children who were evacuated to the US without their parents

Months after arriving in a new country, it’s still unclear when or how 1,450 children Afghanistan evacuated to the United States can be reunited with their parents. This figure shows the reality of an evacuation and its consequences.

“It is surprising that more than 1,000 children are not living with their families. They may be feeling lonely, lost and scared,” said Sabrina Perrino, an Afghan dentist in California.

Many children have tried to leave Afghanistan with their families but have been separated during the chaos. Some of the children lost their parents in the bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Some of the children’s parents were killed in that attack.

Most of the 1,450 children brought here without their parents were quickly sent to live with suitable sponsors, US officials said. Some of them are reunited with loved ones through a streamlined process the US government has set up for children in Afghanistan.

However, according to figures from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, about 250 children are still in the custody of the US government. Most of them do not have any relatives in the US to reunite.

Video calls become “lifesavers”

Two teenage boys sit on the sofa outside the living room of a house in Northern Virginia, looking very confused. 17-year-old Ramin and 16-year-old Emal have absolutely no intention of going to America without their parents.

The two are close friends and neighbors in Kabul. The two tried to leave the country with their parents during the August evacuation, but got lost in the airport attack. In the end, only Ramin and Emal made it to America. Both parents and siblings were left behind.

When he arrived in the US in September, Ramin panicked, said Wida Amir, a member of the Afghan American Foundation.

Two teenagers start school and say they are trying to build a new life in America. They are both very happy for the chance to live in safety, but always sad because their family in Afghanistan is still in danger.

Questions not answered

Ramin and Emal want to reunite with their family in America. But their families in Afghanistan don’t know where to turn to make it happen.

“That’s what I’ve always hoped for,” said Emal.

Sponsors told CNN that it is not clear what procedures are needed to reunite the children with their families who are still in Afghanistan or other countries.

“Whose responsibility is it to reunite the children with their parents and where will that take place?… Those are the questions we are struggling with ourselves,” said Jennifer Podkul, Vice President of the organization. sponsor children in need, an organization that helps migrants and refugee children who are unaccompanied.

The US government is doing everything it can to help reunite Afghan children with loved ones, the US Department of Health and Human Services said. But leaving Afghanistan is still a significant challenge, and the reunification process is difficult and can take a long time.

Every time Sima Quraishi visits an Afghan children’s shelter in Chicago, the children tell her how much they miss their family.

No one can replace parents

Many children are living with relatives, relatives are also facing difficulties.

Ferishta sees pain on the faces of her niece and nephew every day. Both are now living with her in Virginia, but their minds are thousands of miles away.

Mina, 8, and Ahmad Faisal, 13, tried to flee Afghanistan with their parents and brother. But the airport bombing had scattered their families.

The two children made it to the US in September, with the help of a neighbor. But their mother died in the bombing, and other family members were left behind, Ferishta said.

For the past several months, family members have been afraid to tell the children about their mother’s death. Little Mina keeps asking questions that her aunt doesn’t know how to answer: Why did she and her brother go to Germany after the attack? Why can’t my mother come with me? When will your father be here?

“She cries every night until she falls asleep” said Ferishta

Ferishta tries her best to comfort Mina. But the children need their father by their side. The two children went through a lot of suffering, receiving treatment for their injuries at Landstuhl Hospital in Germany and Walter Reed Military Medical Center outside Washington. It was followed by 20 days in a Virginia shelter for unaccompanied minors while Ferishta worked to get them out. Now, the two are grieving to learn of their mother’s death while trying to adjust to their new life in America.

Ferishta says that, in many ways, they are lucky kids. If the neighbor has not contacted Mina and Faisal’s next of kin, the family may still be looking for the two children.

“I can feel the pain of the children who come here without their parents. Every day being with my grandchildren, I feel how much they have to go through,” said Ferishta. /.

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