An Afghan family who fled Kabul after the Taliban took over the country in August has been stuck in Ukraine for more than a month while they await their paperwork from Canadian immigration officials.
Javed Ahmed Huckmal – a former interpreter for the Canadian Armed Forces – and 11 of his relatives, including five children, were part of a larger group that was evacuated by Ukrainian troops.
Since landing in Kiev on August 28, they have been staying at a hotel paid for by the Globe and Mail, whose reporter Mark McKinnon has been involved in the family’s dramatic escape after two deadly suicide attacks outside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport. helped.
Kandahar’s family now finds itself hanging in the balance, with no end in sight.
Huckmal is becoming impatient, frustrated and worried about the well being of his family.
“We are heart broken. We are really disappointed,” the 33-year-old told Granthshala News.
“We are like prisoners living in this hotel,” he said. “I don’t know how long I’ll wait.”
It has been a long test for the family who fled to Kabul back in July as the Taliban progressed to siege their hometown of Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest city.
As part of their support work to help bring asylum to Afghans in Canada, staff members of the Liberal MP’s office helped raise funds to get Hakmal and his family out of Kandahar and to a safe home in Kabul. helped.
In early August, Huckmal said he had completed his biometrics at the Canadian embassy in the capital. He has already received letters of convenience including health insurance documents and ID numbers from Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for all his family members.
Still, there’s no word on when they’ll be able to move to Canada.
Canada has committed to resettle 40,000 refugees from Afghanistan. Since the Taliban took control of the summer, more than 1,000 Afghan refugees have arrived in the country.
In July, the federal government unveiled a new, accelerated “path to safety” for Afghans who supported Canadian soldiers in the form of interpreters, cultural advisers or support staff, as well as their families.
But plans to resettle Afghan interpreters have been beset with problems, delays and controversy as thousands like Hakmal wait in Afghanistan or a third country.
Robert St. Aubin, who advocated for Huckmal and helped collect funds while working as a staff member for Thunder Bay-Rainy River Liberal MP Marcus Powlowski, said there was a lack of transparency and accountability from IRCC officials. Is.
“One of the biggest issues is that the immigration department is so opaque, it’s not clear what’s going on,” he told Granthshala News.
“We are in the system and yet there is no real accountability to a democratically elected government when it comes to these officials.”
While Haqmal and his family managed to escape from Afghanistan, Aubin said he was also in touch with other families who are still stranded in Kabul. Others are waiting in Islamabad.
St. Aubin said “bureaucratic inefficiencies” and delays are affecting human life.
Granthshala News reached out to the IRCC with questions about the number of applications received from people fleeing Afghanistan since the Taliban’s advance in August, and how many had been processed.
The IRCC did not provide a response before this story was published.
Jeremy Verville, a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, first met Huckmal in Kandahar in 2009 while serving as a platoon commander, and has been in contact ever since.
He said he tried calling IRCC to get some answers on his immigration status, but to no avail. He is now attempting to serve as the family’s representative and fill out the necessary paperwork to proceed with his case.
“It was very difficult for him to get out because he had complied with all the requirements,” Verville told Granthshala News.
However, Verville is optimistic and optimistic.
“What I’m trying to tell him everyday (is) is ‘Man, you’re safe… The bureaucracy is long sometimes, but at least you don’t have to run for your life.’ “
While he waits, health is a major concern for Huckmal, who has been living with a kidney and has been taking medication to treat depression for the past two years.
His mother, in her 70s, is a diabetic. He says finding medicine without a prescription has been a struggle.
Despite some financial help from Canadian military commanders in both Ukraine and Canada, the family is short of funds.
“We need food, we need health support, we need financial support,” Huckmal said.
“Sometimes my mother is crying, my wife is crying about what position we are in. How long… we will wait in this situation?”