“Born as a U.S. Citizen”: Afghan refugees welcome newborn babies in the United States | Refugee News

Fort McCoy Military Base, Wisconsin, U.S.—— Ahmed Zai* imagined the birth of his first child as a typical Afghan family event. Relatives came to his home in Kabul to send embroidered baby clothes and other gifts, and recited the Quran to celebrate.

But Ahmed Zai’s first child was born in a hospital in Wisconsin and then taken back Fort McCoy Military base where his family and thousands of others are there Afghan refugees After being evacuated from Afghanistan during the Taliban takeover, they are awaiting immigration processing.

25-year-old Ahmed Zai, like other parents of newborn babies in Fort McCoy, said that welcoming newborns at the camp was bittersweet.

“It would be great if we gave birth in Kabul and stayed with my family,” he told Al Jazeera. “Our happiness will double.”

He expressed gratitude for the safety and opportunities provided by his new environment; he also regretfully missed the ceremony and shared joy of the extended family after the birth of a new child in Afghanistan.

Ahmed Zai’s new son, Yasser, is one of more than 250 babies born to U.S. military bases by Afghan evacuees. Army retreat According to the US military, it withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of August.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Military Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) told Al Jazeera in an email: “Families with newborn babies get milk powder, diapers, wet wipes and clothes and other necessities from various government and non-governmental organizations.”

At Fort McCoy, the family asked the U.S. military for anything they might need. The Red Cross also actively provides humanitarian support at the base.

Missing family

Ahmed Zai had worked at a US military base in Afghanistan, and he said he had no choice but to flee his country. Taliban controlled In mid-August, as the United States and NATO troops withdrew from the capital Kabul.

Now, he and his family live in one of the two-story barracks in Fort McCoy, where there are thousands of Afghans.Every family hangs curtains and blankets provided by the Red Cross to create a private space inside Building.

Approximately 30 people live on each floor. The family was assigned a bed and a small area to socialize and eat.

“We are very happy that our boy was born safely, but we are also disappointed that we are now in a foreign country,” Ahmed Zai said.

In Kabul, relatives will bring gifts to newborns-clothes, swings, strollers, blankets, cradles and toys.

On the sixth night of the child’s life, the whole family gathered together to recite the Quran, the full name is “Khatm ul Quran.”

In the United States, most of Ahmed Zai’s family received verbal congratulations from other evacuees in their building.

“Everyone here is the same-what we wear here, what we eat, everyone does the same thing, so there is no complaint,” he said.

Another baby, Muhammad, was born on November 2. His father Abad said he thanked his wife for the medical care he received during and after pregnancy.

Muhammad is the third child of this family; they have two daughters who are 5 and 3 years old.

“I am very happy that my son was born and became an American citizen,” Abad told Al Jazeera. “As he grows up, he will live in a mixed community of Afghans and Americans, which is a good thing for him.”

He said he was looking forward to organizing a ceremony after he officially settled in the United States and inviting neighbors in Afghanistan and the United States to dinner.

“Due to the fighting and destruction there, it is difficult for my son to study well and become a successful person in Afghanistan,” Abad said. “They have very good educational institutions here, and my son can go to these institutions.”

Abad originally came from Khost province in eastern Afghanistan. He said he will try to teach his children Afghan culture and customs.

“I think my son was very lucky to be born here; we were born and raised in war, and we have witnessed bloodshed in our country all our lives, so he is lucky to be born in a peaceful country,” he said.

Chaotic evacuation

Although Abad and his family consider themselves lucky, the chaotic American withdrawal Left many Afghans Who cooperates with the U.S. military. The rapid advance of the Taliban in Kabul in August triggered a large-scale evacuation operation to help American citizens, allies, and third-party nationals leave the country.

Although the US government stated that it helped airlift more than 124,000 people from Kabul between the time the Taliban took over and the last American soldier left the country, the operation was plagued by violence and chaos.

The picture shows the Afghan Hanging on The plane took off from Kabul Airport the day after the Taliban took over the city.A sort of Suicide bomber Among the crowd at one of the airport gates Killed at least 175 people On August 25th, 13 American soldiers were included.

At least three babies were born during the evacuation. An Afghan woman gave birth in the cargo compartment of a C-17 plane on an evacuation flight, and two other women gave birth at a U.S. military base in Ramstein, Germany. The U.S. State Department’s regulations mean that none of these three people are automatic U.S. citizens, because airplanes and overseas bases are not considered U.S. territory.

An Afghan family who was taken to the United States during the operation remained could not find it His baby handed over the then 2-month-old baby to the U.S. military during the riots at Kabul Airport.

Immigration Advocate Criticized Washington for failing to expedite the processing of special immigrant visas for US allies after deciding to withdraw troops from the country.

Back at Fort McCoy, the family said they were relieved in the United States.

Safi is an Afghan evacue who has worked in the US military. She will welcome a newborn daughter in two months. He said that he and his wife are happy that their children will be born in a more peaceful environment than they experienced when they were growing up.

“Looking at it this way, I worked in the US military for many years, and then waited four years to get the special immigrant visa, but eventually evacuated under very bad circumstances,” Safi told Al Jazeera. “But my daughter will automatically become a U.S. citizen as soon as she is born.”

The expected babies will be the second daughter and fourth child of Safi’s family.

“I have always dreamed of a peaceful and free country life, where my children can learn and build their own lives,” he said. “Now my dream has come true by coming to the United States.”

*For security reasons, all interviewees used pseudonyms or names for identification.

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