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Sunday, September 26, 2021

After daring escape, Afghan interpreter desperate to bring rest of family to Canada

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After his own harrowing escape from his native Afghanistan, one man is desperately working to bring his family to his home in Canada.

“Leaving a pregnant wife, an elderly dad and a younger sister has been very hard for me,” Hujat, who worked as an interpreter for the Canadian Armed Forces, told CTV National News on Friday. “Very hard.”

Hujat moved to Canada years ago but had been in his homeland since February to care for his family and marry his longtime fiancée. On Aug. 15, the day Kabul fell to the Taliban, he was at the airport for a scheduled flight. He called his family, and they urged him to leave the country. He then saw people running for their lives, and so he began to run, too, while waving his Canadian passport.

“I left my luggage and everything in the airport and just entered a military plane with hundreds of people at the same time,” he said.

The aircraft belonged to the U.S. Air Force.

“They tried to force people out of the plane. They said, ‘Hey, this plane is not going anywhere,'” he said. “They actually pushed me, and they used tear gas.”

But Hujat held his place. The plane eventually took off and landed in Qatar, and from there Hujat was able to return to Canada.

His family members were able to acquire visas and make their way to Kabul. They waited at the airport for four days and nights but were unable to secure a flight out of the country.

“I cannot stop thinking about them,” Hujat said. “I love them so much.”

Now that Canada has ended its evacuation operation in Afghanistan, they, like others with Canadian paperwork, are looking for other escape routes. Meanwhile, the federal government has urged those left behind to not give up hope.

“Yesterday, we secured approximately 500 seats on an American airlift, and they are now safely out of Kabul,” Canada’s immigration minister Marco Mendicino told reporters Friday. “We will continue to work with the United States and others to establish air bridges wherever we can, even beyond the anticipated withdrawal of the coalition on August 31.”

Ottawa has suggested to those looking for a way out to stay put for now, but if they find a safe way to a third country, Canadian diplomats may be able to help.

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