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Friday, October 22, 2021

Afghan journalist on his escape from Kabul and waiting to come to Canada

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TORONTO / DOHA — An Afghan journalist, who is now in Qatar, is telling the story of his escape from Afghanistan and his expectations for his life once he reunites with family in Canada.

Akbar Shinwari told CTV National News he has been in an evacuation centre in Doha, Qatar’s capital, for the past month after being rescued by the Qatari ambassador on the ground in Afghanistan.

“He was the one who was helping all others, including me,” Shinwari explained.

He said the Qatari ambassador helped rescue about 150 members of the journalist community in Kabul, as well as their families, by leading them to the airport in a convoy of busses.

“He was wearing local clothes with a local hat and he was talking to the Taliban at multiple checkpoints,” Shinwari said.

He said the journey took about 45 minutes, but he began to relax once they reached Kabul’s former Green Zone.

Shinwari said he called the ambassador the “angel of life” for helping them flee.

“He was the one who was saving our lives with not only my life, the life of our families and everyone, because safety was not there. If he was not leading the convoy… forget about to get into the airport,” Shinwari said.

Shinwari, who previously did some work for the Canadian government and The Canadian Press, is waiting in Qatar with his family to come to Canada so they can be with their relatives.

“My aunt is there and I also have some of my media friends there, and they are very happy. They’re treated very well. I’m looking forward to a journey there,” he said.

However, Shinwari said if was difficult to leave behind their life in Afghanistan and see the country deteriorate under Taliban rule.

“It was really painful because all those achievements that we had in the last 20 years, that is gone,” he said. “Education system, the banking, the progress, the women’s rights, the all of the rights that we had.”

Shinwari said he understand that transitioning to a new life in Canada will have its challenges, but hopes there will be opportunities for all Afghans coming to the country.

He added that he is most looking forward to sending his daughters back to school, who were previously studying at the university in Kabul.

“They’ll have a brighter future and maybe for the future they’ll be very useful for Canada and also for Afghanistan,” Shinwari said.

With files from CTVNews.ca’s Brooklyn Neustaeter

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