Doha News witnessed the family reunite with the toddler after years of separation.
Qatar reunited an Afghan child with some of her family members on Monday, nearly two years after her parents were killed during a deadly attack that rocked Kabul airport in 2021.
Maryam Omran was evacuated from Afghanistan at the time when she was barely two months old and was placed under the custody of Qatar’s Orphans Care Center, Dreama.
The child’s family members were identified as her two sisters and uncle, Yaar Muhammad Niazai, though it remains unclear where her siblings were at the time of the events in Kabul
Maryam, now believed to be one and a half years old, was the last unaccompanied Afghan minor remaining in the Gulf state.
An official from Qatar with knowledge on the process told reporters that Maryam was evacuated from Kabul in 2021 alongside a three-year-old, both of whom were placed at a special facility in Dreama for children their age.
Qatar collaborated with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), which has an office in Afghanistan, to identify her family members.
“They were getting a lot of requests and when they thought that they had an identification they contacted us to conduct a DNA test, so we sent DNA kits to Afghanistan,” the official said.
Upon matching the DNA, Qatar began the months-long process of issuing passports. The family is now in the process of moving to the United States to begin their new life.
On 5 August 2021, chaos erupted in Kabul following the Taliban’s takeover of the country, in which millions of Afghans found themselves facing an uncertain future.
At the time, Qatar had carried out mass evacuations of Afghans and foreigners who were desperate to flee the Taliban. Qatar evacuated at least 80,000 Afghans and foreigners in what quickly became known as history’s largest airlift of people.
Kabul’s Hamid Karazai International Airport became a vulnerable hotspot as millions rushed to flee the country as the US carried out a chaotic exit following its deadly 20-year invasion.
In the middle of the chaos was Maryam, whose parents were among the 170 Afghans killed during an attack by ISIS-K, the Islamic State’s Afghan affiliate, at the airport’s gate on 26 August.
At least 13 US troops were also killed during the attack.
Last year, a US military inquiry revealed that the attack was carried out by a single ISIS-K bomber.
America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was widely believed to be ill-conceived, placing the Joe Biden administration under immense pressure to provide answers on the exit.