Calgary airport hosts tearful reunion for Afghan refugees: ‘My family is free’

At the international arrivals gate at Calgary International Airport, Ahmadullah Yaqoobi paced Friday morning, carrying three bouquets of flowers.

“For one girl, another…and this is for my wife,” he beamed.

He has not seen his family since his sudden departure from Afghanistan about three years ago.

As a civil servant, he was one of more than 40,000 refugees fleeing the violence caused by the Taliban takeover in 2021. His youngest daughter was only ten days old.

“(They) told me you can bring your family after three months, four months…” Yaqoobi said. “But I have no choice because Afghanistan, for me, was very difficult.”

Click to play video: “Calgarians who lived and worked in Afghanistan raise awareness of the plight of the Taliban”

Calgarians who lived and worked in Afghanistan raise awareness about the plight of the Taliban

One by one, 333 refugees passed through the international gates around 8 a.m. Yaqoobi had arrived a few hours earlier.

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The new arrivals were welcomed by the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, providing immediate medical support, food and shelter to weary travelers.

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About 40 of the new arrivals will stay in Calgary, while the others will leave for destinations across Canada.

“Housing remains the number one challenge due to the crisis we are facing in Calgary,” said Fatima Mansouri, assistant manager of the CCIS resettlement program.

“I would say that because of the experience we have and the relationships we have built with some management companies and owners over the years, I am confident that we will be able to find accommodation for all clients in a timely manner. “

In honor of International Women’s Day, CCIS is also distributing flowers to women and girls. It is an offer of hope, respect and the promise of a new beginning in a country where their rights, their voices and their contributions are valued and celebrated.

“Over the years, any refugee who arrives in a new country must ensure the safety of their family,” Mansouri said. “But education is also the main reason for many people.”

“In Afghanistan, girls don’t go to school,” adds Yaqoobi. “Now my daughter who comes here can go to school.

“My family is free and can go anywhere. I am very happy about it.

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And happy is probably an understatement to describe this tearful reunion. Yaqoobi ran to meet his wife and daughters as they came out of the gate, for a long-awaited hug.

Her newborn daughter is now three years old. The other is six years old. Both are looking forward to starting their family life with a bright future in Canada.

Click to play video: “Refugees from Afghanistan begin arriving in Edmonton and Calgary”

Afghan refugees begin arriving in Edmonton and Calgary

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