After helping many families flee the Taliban, this man has finally been reunited with his own

As It Happens6:42After helping many families flee the Taliban, this man has finally been reunited with his own

After helping many families flee the Taliban in Afghanistan, Farouq Samim has finally been reunited with his own. His nephew and nephew’s young family arrived safely in Ottawa on March 13.

Farouq said it was an emotional moment. 

“When I came and saw the family, I couldn’t believe my eyes, seeing the family so happy and in front of me,” Farouq told As It Happens host Nil Köksal. 

“So many tears of joy poured, but all happiness.” 

Farouq is the co-founder of Operation Abraham, a non-profit that helps resettle Afghans fleeing Taliban persecution.

When United States troops left Afghanistan and the Taliban took Kabul in August of 2021, Farouq helped over a hundred people escape the country. 

Ottawa promised to help the thousands of Afghans who had aided Canada’s mission there, including translators and those related to Afghan-Canadians.

But it wasn’t until March that Farouq was able to get his nephew, plus his nephew’s wife and three daughters to safety. 

“The three beautiful girls are amazing. They are in the safety of our beautiful country for the past two weeks,” said Farouq. “This is wonderful. It’s so relieving to see them here, safe and sound.”

CBC News has learned the Canadian government was hoping to facilitate air travel out of Afghanistan at least up to spring 2022.
Taliban forces patrol near the entrance gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport, a day after U.S troops withdrew in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 31, 2021. Farouq says that if his nephew had been sent back to Afghanistan, his life would’ve been at risk. (REUTERS)

Fear of death

Muhabatullah Samim, his wife, Nilofar Samim, and their daughters were able to make it to Pakistan after the Taliban took over their country. The family lived in a small shelter there for the last year and a half. The family rarely left the shelter for fear of being deported back to Afghanistan. 

It was hard for Farouq. He says he became like a father figure to Muhabatullah after Muhabatullah’s actual father abandoned him at age five. Muhabatullah’s children call Farouq grandfather. 

Farouq told As It Happens during an interview in December that he feared for his nephew’s life. He said Muhabatullah was known by the Taliban, as he was a prosecutor with the armed forces. 

He feared a deportation back to Afghanistan would mean death.

“If this happens to this family that means sending them to certain death, detention or whatever kind of retaliation will come from the Taliban,” Farouq said in December. 

Afghan children huddle around a campfire.
Afghan refugee children warm themselves with fire in a camp near the Torkham Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Torkham, Afghanistan, Nov. 4, 2023. The Pakistani government ordered all unregistered foreign nationals to leave the country by Nov. 1, 2023. (Ebrahim Noroozi/Associated Press)

But Farouq promised he would get them out. 

Muhabatullah’s two brothers had already made it to Canada, but even though they’d completed their biometrics, Muhabatullah and Nilofar’s application was stuck. 

Despite the promise to get people out and support the Afghani people still in the country as well, Canadian aid groups have criticized the Canadian government for being slow to remove roadblocks that would make it easier to get help to people there.

The urgency for Farouq’s nephew was heightened when the Pakistani government ordered all unregistered foreign nationals to leave the country. This led to at least six Afghan families with ties to Canada being deported back to Afghanistan.

Promises kept

The reunion signified a victory for Operation Abraham. The group, founded in part by Farouq, includes people from multiple faiths, all with the goal of getting Afghan refugees to safety. 

The group prepared a list of about 100 people who needed out, and were able to help journalists, members of the country’s national security forces and many others get to safety. 

Muhabatullah’s family were the last names on that list, but Farouq says there is another family they hope to help. That family is currently outside of Afghanistan, and hoping to come to Canada from another country. Farouq won’t say more because he says it will put the family at risk. But he says the father is a hero who helped many others escape.

Military stand with a large military plane in the background.
Shortly after the United States left Afghanistan, the Taliban took Kabul. The Canadian government worked to get those who assisted in Canada’s mission there out of the country. (Master Sgt. Alex Burnett/U.S. Army/Reuters)

In the meantime, Farouq said he is very thankful for the lives the three little girls will get to have now — out of Afghanistan and away from the Taliban. 

“I’m so, so relieved. Also happy to see, particularly, those little girls who would have no life in Afghanistan if they stayed there, and all the dangers that their parents faced,” said Farouq. 

Another baby is on the way, and the family will soon move into a house. 

“Muhabatullah and Nilofar, his partner, have just passed their exams, and they are going to enrol in an English school and learn the official languages and get ready for their new beautiful adventure,” said Farouq. 

And the three girls, who are granddaughters to Farouq, will get to go to school.

“Those promises that I made to those girls will come true.”

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