Afghan family fleeing Taliban reunite in Edmonton

It’s more than a decade since Beazhan Hussaini last saw her sister.

But after several challenging months of trying to leave his native Afghanistan – a journey where he and his family left the country, transit through Pakistan and had a child born along the way – Beazhan and his sister were finally reunited, this time in Canada.

“I’m very excited,” Hussaini told CTV National News before seeing his sister, Nafesa, in Edmonton. “You know, we’re seeing her after 11 years, and it’s not just me, the whole family, and we’re all excited.”

Ten members of the Hussaini family recently reunited with Nafesa in Alberta’s capital. Prior to that, Nafesa had no idea that her brothers, sisters-in-law, mother, nieces and nephews had reached Canada.

“I do not know what to say about this,” she said. “It’s still, I can not believe they are here, they are in front of me.”

With a sigh of relief and a smile on his face, Nafesa added, “I have no idea what to say.”

It was precisely this past summer that Hussaini was working on his office job in Kabul, a day he describes as ordinary, when the Taliban arrived in the Afghan capital after the withdrawal of US troops from the country – ending the 20-year US war. there.

When he learned that the Taliban was close to Kabul, Beazhan said everyone in his office was shocked.

“It was literally a few seconds, everything collapsed,” he said.

He says he saw Taliban vehicles with their white flags on the street and wondered how he could get home safely.

Beazhan and his family twice tried to get to Kabul airport, something thousands of others also tried to do.

“My mother was dying, to be honest. She was unable to get into the airport. There were a lot of people,” he said.

“… Then we come home again with no hope of being honest because everything was blocked, you know, and Kabul cried to be honest.”

Speaking in Farsi, Beazhan’s wife, Basira, told CTV National News that her daughter’s school had been closed and women’s rights had been revoked.

Because of Beazhan’s high-profile human development work with a Canadian NGO and the Canadian government, Basira says he could have been targeted. The family knew they were going out.

After hearing about the history of the Hussaini family, the Canadian Veterans Transition Network decided to help.

“We are committed to bringing in people with a significant lasting relationship with the Canadian government,” said Veterans Transition Network Chairman Tim Laidler.

“We have tried to help primarily interpreters and their families, but we have met a whole bunch of people like Beazhan who worked for Canadian NGOs and had the same relationship with the Canadian government.”

The Veterans Transition Network says about 9,000 people from Afghanistan have documentation to enter Canada, but the organization needs more donations to help them do so.

On November 5, Kabul’s safe houses closed, offering refuge to more than 1,700 Afghan interpreters, chefs, guards and their families due to lack of funding. Veterans groups had previously raised about $ 2 million in private donations, but said they would need an additional $ 5 million to keep the safe houses open.

Advocates have urged the federal government to rush these families’ applications to come to Canada.

The Hussainians eventually reached Pakistan by car. Shortly after they arrived, Beazhan’s sister-in-law gave birth to a baby girl.

“Our family was nine, now we are 10,” he said.

After a short stay in Pakistan, the now 10 members of the Hussaini family came safely to Canada.

The family has already been offered work and housing. Meanwhile, Beazhan plans to volunteer with a group from the University of British Columbia that provides mental health care to Afghan refugees.

“Even I think I’m dreaming,” he said, giving his appreciation to the Veterans Transition Network and the Canadian government.

“We are great migrants and we will remain amazing for this country. This is our second home and you will see in the coming years that we will make a lot of good contributions to building this country together.”

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