Afghan family forced to flee conflict for second time in eight months

Mohammad, his wife and three children were living in eastern Afghanistan when the Taliban launched its takeover.

11 March 2022

A family who escaped violence in Afghanistan eight months ago have been forced to flee their home for a second time after war broke out in Ukraine.

Save the Children said Mohammad, which is a pseudonym, along with his wife and three children were living in eastern Afghanistan when the Taliban launched its takeover of the nation last summer.

They made it to Kabul where they spent three days outside the airport trying to secure their escape. Eventually the family managed to board an evacuation flight to Ukraine, where Mohammad had previously lived and worked for 30 years.

Mohammad and Samad
Mohammad and Samad are pictured outside the reception centre in Suceava (Save the Children/PA)

However, as they began to settle into their new lives in eastern Ukraine, Russia launched an invasion on February 24.

As the fighting started, the family heard explosions in the distance and made the decision to leave their home once again.

Speaking to the charity Mohammad, 54, said: “My family came here for peace. But when they heard fighting would start here… nobody could believe that there would be bombing, there would be fighting. But it was real. It was not a dream.”

His 14-year-old son, Samad, also using a pseudonym, said: “It [in Afghanistan] was war and it was bombing and very bad days. A lot of people were killed in this war. So we left Afghanistan.

“It was a very big thing for me to come from a war, and live in a peaceful place. This was very good for me and my family. I made friends, I came to school. And the people were very kind.

“It was just like this in Kabul. A lot of people wanted to leave Kabul and go to a peaceful place. And [in Ukraine], a lot of people wanted to leave and go to a peaceful place, for their children, for themselves.

“In the future I will miss a lot of things that I had there. [But] for us it’s a very big thing for us to be safe, it’s enough for us to be safe here.”

The family drove for more than 30 hours on crowded roads before waiting three days at the border, sleeping in their car while temperatures plummeted outside.

Mohammad and Samad
A worker from Save the Children speaks to the pair (Save the Children/PA)

They eventually managed to cross the border and are currently in Suceava, Romania.

The family are now being supported by charity Save the Children, which is working in a reception centre where they are currently staying, and has provided them with information and guidance, clothes and shoes.

The aid agency, which is a member of the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC), is also on the border distributing food, blankets and hygiene kits.

Samad said: “We’re just in a camp, and I’m worried for my future. I want to study, I want to be a good man. For my family, for my future, for myself.”

Mohammad added: “Everything will be right. I think so. I hope so.”

Donations raised by the DEC’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal are being used to help people like Samad and his family to help rebuild their lives.

More than £150 million has been raised since the DEC launched its appeal last week, which includes £25 million matched by the UK Government.

Samad and Mohammad
Money donated to the Disaster Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal will help the family rebuild their lives again (Save the Children/PA)

Gabriela Alexandrescu, chief executive of Save the Children Romania, said: “Children and families across Ukraine are facing impossible decisions every day. The choice between retreating below ground to try and survive a terrifying onslaught or abandoning everything and escaping as conflict rages is one no parent should have to make.

“To be forced to flee across borders twice in the space of months is almost impossible to conceive.

“Many people originally from outside Europe are fleeing Ukraine and they need Europe’s help and protection.”

To donate towards the DEC’s appeal, visit: www.dec.org.uk

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