Maryam: Afghan orphaned toddler Maryam finally reunited with family

DOHA: An Afghan toddler brought on an evacuation flight from Kabul in 2021 after her parents were killed in a bombing has been reunited with relatives at an orphanage in Qatar .
Baby girl, now believed to be around 21 months old and named Maryam went to the orphanage, saw her uncle Yaar Mohamad Niazi and her brother and two sisters for the first time.
Niazi, about 40 years old and with four children, said: “I don’t know if we’ll ever find her again, and now I’m deeply moved. “When I hug her, I just tell myself ‘she’s alive’.”
The tearful reunion ended the desperate search for Maryam since the tumultuous days of August 2021 when Taliban took control of the Afghan capital, triggering a mass flight in panic.
Maryam’s parents were among those who tried to flee with their four children when they were killed in a bomb explosion and massive gunfight at Kabul airport, which claimed the lives of 183 people on August 26.
The girl’s birth name is Alizawas only a few weeks old at the time of her parents’ death in an attack that was claimed by the local branch of the Islamic State group.
Amid the carnage, a teenage boy grabbed her and carried her onto a US military flight that brought stranded Afghans and foreigners to Doha, a Qatari official said.
She found a new home in Qatar’s Dreama orphanage, while her brother and two sisters stayed in Afghanistan.
Maryam is the youngest of about 200 Afghan children evacuated alone on flights carrying tens of thousands of people out of Afghanistan.
“We took them in and took them into intensive care,” the Qatari official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“We worked with UNICEF to see if there were any family members.”
The United Nations Children’s Organization was quickly besieged by frantic requests from families in Afghanistan searching for missing loved ones.
DNA test
Niazi and three other orphans returned to Afghanistan, where the Taliban formed a government for what they named the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Six weeks after the massive bomb blast in Kabul, United Nations detectives thought they had the baby’s identity.
“They contacted us to conduct a DNA test,” the Qatari official said.
Transporting genetic test results between Doha and Kabul for a match takes longer, because Niazi waited months for a passport from the new Taliban government so he could bring his family to Qatar.
Now in the Gulf nation, Niazi said he will begin the process of moving to the United States, with his wife and a total of eight children currently in their care.
“We just want to be somewhere safe,” he told AFP.
The social workers will gradually introduce him and his siblings to Maryam, so that they can gradually get to know each other better.
Niazi said she will keep her new name because that’s the name she responds to.
Other children at the Qatar orphanage have also been reunited with family members.
A three-year-old boy there traveled with his father to Canada after a Qatari diplomat recognized him from a missing child photo.
Most of the other children are at least 8 years old, and many are now with relatives or adopted by families in the United States, Canada or Europe.
At one point, thousands of Afghans took refuge in Doha temporarily to wait for countries to accept them. There are only about 15 of them left, Qatari officials said.
Hundreds of other Afghans are still at a US military base in Qatar, many of them new arrivals, still waiting for a chance to find a new home abroad.


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