First baby born to Afghan airlift refugees
An Afghan couple evacuated by air from Kabul in mid-August as the Taliban took control have had a baby born in Melbourne.
‘Shafiq’ and his wife ‘Amira’ welcomed baby son Ibrahim on September 23.
The baby was born prematurely but safely at Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital after the couple made a short 2am dash to the hospital from their temporary accommodation in the inner city.
“It was 2am and we went to the hospital in a taxi. Ibrahim was premature but everything was OK. The Royal Women’s Hospital staff looked after us. We are very happy,” Shafiq said.
He said getting out of Afghanistan was a frightening ordeal.
“It was very scary getting out of Kabul. My wife, who was eight months into her pregnancy fell into a drain outside the airport as were trying to get in,” Shafiq said.
“I worked on contracts for the Australian Government. I was a site engineer with a logistical company that worked on projects for the embassy – doing work on septic tanks and repairing sewage infrastructure,” he said.
“Because of this we were in danger and we were worried that if we stayed the Taliban would come for us.
“I had applied for a visa and when it came by email there was also a notification to come to the airport.
“We were told to go to the A/B gate. But it was very difficult. There were thousands of people trying to get in. It was very difficult for my wife, she fell into drain water. I was very worried about her.
“But we were actually lucky because it only took us six or seven hours to get in – for most people it was two, three or four days. We were also lucky because the Australian soldiers helped us and checked everything,” Shafiq said.
Shafiq and Amira are among more than 120,000 people evacuated by military aircraft from Kabul International Airport between August 13 and 30 this year. Led by the US, the operation also included the air forces of the UK, Australia, Germany, Canada, Korea, India and a host of European nations.
The couple spent a night at the Australian camp at the airport in Kabul before being flown to Dubai, where they spent a week. After two weeks of hotel quarantine in Brisbane, they arrived in Melbourne on September 13.
“We heard that there was a strong Afghan community he Melbourne, so we decided to come here,” Shafiq said.
He said his main worry now was family still in Afghanistan.
“We are very worried about our families. My father, mother and brother and sisters are still in Kabul. The situation there is very bad. There are no jobs and no security. We want our families to come here to Australia so they are safe,” Shafiq said.
“And they want to be with their grandson,” he said.
Shafiq has a Master’s Degree in water resource and environmental engineering from Kabul polytechnic University and he plans to resume his career here in Australia.
“I would like to follow my career here in Australia. I will need to study because the education systems are different,” he said.
“But for now we are very happy to be here. We have had good support from the Australians Government and AMES. We have everything we need, including nappies and clothes for the baby,” he said.
Shafiq said he was also happy about the opportunities Ibrahim would have in Australia.
“My son will be able to have a good education and follow his dreams while also contributing to Australian society,” he said.
Names have been changed to protect family members still in Afghanistan