Afghan baby lifted over fence at Kabul airport reunited with family in Arizona

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Afghan baby lifted over fence at Kabul airport reunited with family in Arizona

The wailing baby seen in widely-circulated photos and video being handed over a barbed wire fence to an American soldier at the Kabul airport has been reunited with her family and is now living happily in Arizona, according to local outlets.

Her father Hameed, who was only identified by his first name for security reasons, was inside the perimeter of the Hamid Karzai International Airport when he spotted his wife and newborn amid the mass of people trying to flee Afghanistan, azfamily.com reported.

“That day I handed over my baby to a total stranger,” he told the outlet. “The only thing I trusted is that he was a Marine, and that my daughter would be safe.”

Marines were filmed plucking the baby from her dad’s arms and lifting her over the barbed wire to safety, in a heartbreaking moment that grabbed the world’s attention amid the US evacuations from the Taliban-controlled country.

The family, including mom Sadia and 8-week old Liya, is now safe and comfortable staying with friends in the Phoenix area, according to the outlet.

Liya is now safe staying with her family and friends in the Phoenix area, according to the outlet.
Liya is now safe staying with her family and friends in the Phoenix area, according to the outlet.
azfamily powered by 3TV & CBS5AZ

Dad Hameed, who a five-year Afghan ally who worked in Kabul as a linguist and cultural advisor for military officials, said he spent the entire month of August in the Kabul airport assisting the US with evacuations.

During the time, the first-time dad was kept in a secure area and missed the birth of his daughter.

His wife had a difficult delivery but worked up the strength to flee her home as the Taliban approached the capital. By, Aug. 12, Hameed said, it was clear they would have to leave.

“We got intel that people were getting killed, or going missing. By my affiliation [with the military], I knew my home would be next. It wasn’t a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when,’” he told the outlet.

A baby is given to the American Army over the perimeter wall of the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 19, 2021.
A baby is given to the American Army over the perimeter wall of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
OMAR HAIDARI/via REUTERS

On Aug. 19, Sadia grabbed her identification documents, some cash and a few belongings and headed to the airport with Liya, then just 16 days old.

At a checkpoint, Sadia said the Taliban seized all of her belongings before she and her baby joined the chaos outside the small airport gate. Hameed said he was able to see them from his side of the fence.

“They were using water cannons and flashbangs to control the crowd. Every time a bang went off, I could see my daughter start screaming and crying. I couldn’t do anything to help,” Hameed told azfamily.

The father Hameed said the only thing that he trusted in that point in time was that the guy he gave his daughter to "was a Marine, and that his daughter would be safe."
Hameed said the only thing that he trusted at that point in time was that the guy he gave his daughter to “was a marine and that his daughter would be safe.”
azfamily powered by 3TV & CBS5AZ

He watched the Taliban beat people in the crowd as people came through the gates with broken limbs and other severe injuries.

“I knew she’d never make it through. She’d be crushed to death, God forbid, or severely injured,” Hameed said.

Desperate, Hameed pointed out his baby to a nearby marine and asked if he could help her get over.

“He told me the only thing he could do was lift her over the barbed wire, but he said she’d be hurt,” the dad recalled. “I told him I’ll take the chance. I’d rather her get hurt than die.”

In the now-iconic photo, Hameed can be seen holding down the marine’s legs as he reaches over the wire and grabs the baby, handing her to Hameed.

Hameed said he watched the Taliban beat people in the crowd and knew his daughter wouldn't make it; that's when he pointed to a marine to help lift her over the fence.
Hameed said he watched the Taliban beat people in the crowd and knew his daughter wouldn’t make it; that’s when he pointed to a marine to help lift her over the fence.
azfamily powered by 3TV & CBS5AZ

This was the first time the father ever held his daughter. Two minutes later, he was forced to return to work with the evacuations, the report said.

Sadia, still on the other side of the fence, had collapsed from heat exhaustion, but was able to make it through the gate hours later, according to the outlet.

The family was put on a flight heading towards the US with other refugees later that day.

Hameed told azfamily that he had no clue how impactful the images of Liya had been around the world.

“I think it was very captivating to see what was actually happening. It’s one thing for politicians to go on TV and say how fine things are. It’s totally something else on the ground, and when you can see it with your own eyes,” he said.

The family is now left without any forms of ID, as Sadia and Liya will need medical care.
The family is now left without any forms of ID, as Sadia and Liya will need medical care.
azfamily powered by 3TV & CBS5AZ

Though they are now safe, the family was left without any forms of ID. Sadia and Liya also need medical care, but Hameed is unable to take them to see a doctor without insurance, the report said.

The dad set up a GoFundMe account to help his family get on their feet as they start their new life. 

He said he hopes to once day meet the marine who helped Liya.

 “Oh my God. I’d give him a hug. He literally saved my daughter’s life,” Hameed told the outlet.

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