A former employee of Canada’s embassy in Kabul who made it safely to this country in August says his brother, whom he wanted to bring here as well, has been killed in Afghanistan.
The embassy employee said he was evacuated to Canada through the special immigration program set up for those who had assisted the Canadian government in Afghanistan. The program covered family members as well, but he was unable to bring his family with him to Canada because their paperwork was incomplete. He said he found out last week that one of his brothers had been killed.
The Globe and Mail is not identifying the former employee because he fears for his family’s safety in Afghanistan.
He said his brother had been missing for more than a month and that another, older brother found him by sifting through countless frozen bodies at a hospital. Hospital staff told his brother that many of the dead came from a Taliban prison, he said, adding that he is 90-per-cent sure the Taliban killed him.
This is at least the second time someone waiting to come to Canada has been killed in Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of the country. A 10-year-old girl was shot and killed by the Taliban while her family was waiting to be resettled here. Her father had worked for the Canadian military in Afghanistan and the family had been approved for resettlement.
The former embassy employee said he was unable to bring his family with him when he came to Canada because he was evacuated on such short notice and they were missing documents. He shared an e-mail he sent in October to a government address that had been set up to help Afghans. In it he wrote that his brother’s and his family’s lives were in danger because everyone knew he had worked for the Canadian embassy. He said he never received a response.
His brother leaves behind a wife and two children, who are very scared, he said. He said his niece cries every time they speak. He hopes his parents, his deceased brother’s family, his other siblings and their families can come to Canada.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said his “heart sank” when he heard the news from The Globe at a news conference Monday.
“The situation in Afghanistan remains very bleak for thousands and thousands of people who may qualify and want to come to Canada. The circumstances that they’re facing and the fact that they may be persecuted on the basis that they contributed to the government of Canada’s efforts is the justification for our commitment to bring 40,000 Afghan refugees, with a specific focus on those who worked alongside Canada during our presence there,” Mr. Fraser said.
He added that there will be challenging circumstances and deadly threats from the Taliban against vulnerable people. He said he is doing everything he can to expedite the resettlement of people to Canada from Afghanistan and third countries.
“There are heartbreaking examples that I hear about on a daily basis. This is particularly difficult to hear, but we are going to do whatever we can to work to bring those who worked alongside Canada and their families here as part of the 40,000 Afghan refugee commitment that we’ve made and I remain committed to.”
Mr. Fraser said that while Canada does not have a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, which would allow officials to process paperwork and secure safe passage out of the country, Ottawa is working with partners and countries that are looking at “potentially” establishing a presence.
Abdul Qayum Hemat, who also worked for the Canadian embassy in Kabul for many years, as a driver, said he is also anxiously waiting for word on the status of his family’s applications.
He said his two brothers are waiting to complete the next step of the application, which involves biometrics and has so far not been possible without a presence in the country. Meanwhile, his siblings and their families move all the time to avoid detection by the Taliban.
Mr. Hemat, who arrived in Toronto in August, said his family members are all scared, calling all the time to ask for an update “in order to make sure that they are soon going to be relocated from the ongoing threat against them and their families as the result of their brother working for the government of Canada.”
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