‘Born as US citizen’: Afghan refugees welcome newborns in US

Fort McCoy army base, Wisconsin, US – Ahmadzai* had imagined the start of his first youngster as a typical Afghan household affair with relations visiting his home in Kabul to ship embroidered child garments and different presents and recite the Quran to rejoice.

But Ahmadzai’s first youngster was delivered at a hospital in Wisconsin after which introduced again to Fort McCoy army base, the place his household and hundreds of different Afghan refugees are awaiting immigration processing after being evacuated from Afghanistan amid the Taliban takeover.

Ahmadzai, 25, like different dad and mom of newborns at Fort McCoy, mentioned welcoming a brand new child on the camp is bittersweet.

“It would have been great if we had the baby in Kabul and were all together with my family,” he informed Al Jazeera. “Our happiness would have been doubled.”

He expressed gratitude for the protection and alternative that his new setting provides; he additionally lamented lacking out on the rituals and shared pleasure of the prolonged household that include the start of a brand new youngster in Afghanistan.

Ahmadzai’s new son, Yasir, is one in every of greater than 250 infants born to Afghan evacuees on army bases within the US since American troops withdrew from Afghanistan on the finish of August, in keeping with the US military.

“Families of newborns receive necessities such as formula, diapers, wipes and clothes from a variety of both governmental and nongovernmental organizations,” a spokesperson for the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) of the army informed Al Jazeera in an e mail.

At Fort McCoy, households ask the US military for the rest they may want. The Red Cross can be energetic on the bottom to offer humanitarian help.

Missing household

Ahmadzai, who had labored on an American army base in Afghanistan, mentioned he had no alternative however to flee his nation when the Taliban took management of the capital Kabul in mid-August as US and NATO troops withdrew.

Now he and his household reside in one of many two-storey barracks housing hundreds of Afghans at Fort McCoy. Each household hangs Red Cross-provided curtains and blankets to create personal house inside of the buildings.

About 30 folks reside on every ground. Families are allotted an area for beds and a small space to socialize and eat.

“We are happy that our boy was born safe and sound, but we are also disappointed that we are in a foreign country right now,” Ahmadzai mentioned.

In Kabul, relations deliver presents for the new child – garments, swings, strollers, blankets, cradles and toys.

The household additionally gathers for recitation of the Quran in full referred to as “Khatm ul Quran” on the sixth night time of the kid’s life.

In the US, Ahmadzai’s household largely acquired verbal congratulations from fellow evacuees of their constructing.

“Everyone’s situation is the same here – what we wear and eat here, everyone does the same, so no complaints,” he mentioned.

Another child, Mohammad, was born on November 2. Abad, his father, mentioned he’s grateful for the medical care his spouse acquired throughout and after her being pregnant.

Mohammad is the household’s third youngster; they’ve two daughters aged 5 and three.

“I am so happy that my son was born as a US citizen,” Abad informed Al Jazeera. “As he grows up, he will be in a mixed community of Afghans and Americans, which will be great for him.”

He mentioned he’s trying ahead to organising a ceremony and welcoming Afghan and American neighbours for a celebratory meal as soon as he’s formally settled within the US.

“It would have been hard for my son to study well and become a successful person in Afghanistan because of the fighting and destruction there,” Abad mentioned. “They have very good institutions for education here and my son will have access to them.”

Originally from Afghanistan’s jap Khost province, Abad mentioned he’ll attempt to educate Afghan tradition and customs to his youngsters.

“I think my son is very lucky to be born here; we were born and raised in war, and we have seen bloodshed in our country through all our lives, so he is lucky to be born in a peaceful country,” he mentioned.

Chaotic evacuations

While Abad and his household think about themselves lucky, the chaotic US withdrawal left behind many Afghans who labored with American forces. The fast Taliban advance on Kabul in August spurred an enormous evacuation operation to assist US residents, allies and third-party nationals go away the nation.

While the US administration says it helped airlift greater than 124,000 from Kabul between the Taliban takeover and the departure of the final American soldier from the nation, the operation was affected by violence and dysfunction.

Footage confirmed Afghans hanging on to departing aeroplanes from the Kabul airport within the day after the Taliban captured town. A suicide bomber within the crowd of individuals at one of many airport gates killed at the very least 175 folks on August 25, together with 13 US service members.

At least three infants have been born through the evacuation. One Afghan lady gave start within the cargo maintain of a C-17 airplane on an evacuation flight, and two others on the US army base in Ramstein, Germany. US State Department rules imply not one of the three are automated US residents as a result of the airplane and the abroad base usually are not thought-about US soil.

One Afghan household delivered to the US through the operation nonetheless has not discovered its toddler after passing the then-2-month-old to US forces through the tumult on the Kabul airport.

Immigration advocates have criticised Washington for failing to hurry up the processing of Special Immigrant Visas for US allies after deciding to tug its forces from the nation.

Back at Fort McCoy, households say they’re relieved to be within the US.

Safi, an Afghan evacuee who had labored with US forces, is anticipating a new child daughter in two months. He mentioned he and his spouse are delighted that their youngster might be born in a extra peaceable setting than that they had skilled rising up.

“Look at it this way, I have worked with American forces for many years, then waited for four years to get Special Immigrant Visas but finally got evacuated in a very bad situation,” Safi informed Al Jazeera. “But my daughter will automatically become a US citizen when she is born.”

The anticipated child would be the second daughter and fourth youngster in Safi’s household.

“I have always dreamed of a peaceful and free country to live in, where my children can study and build their lives,” he mentioned. “Now that dream of mine has come true by coming to America.”

*All the interviewees are recognized by pseudonyms or first names on account of security considerations.


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