Family of Afghan refugees reunited in Vancouver after years of separation

Abdul Bashir Hashimi is starting off 2022 with a full heart. His family is by his side and they are settling into a new life in Canada.

Four years ago, Hashimi was forced to leave his wife Nabila and four children – daughters Maryam, Zainab and Bahar, and son Mohammad Yahya – behind in Afghanistan as he searched for a better life. He arrived in Canada as a refugee, and now that he has obtained his permanent residency, his family is able to join him.

They arrived at Vancouver International Airport in early December.

"I was so happy,” said Hashimi. “I was not sure that I’d see them again alive. It was (such a) difficult time, but I'm happy now.”

“Thanks so much to Canada for giving me this situation,” he added.

People in Afghanistan face a rapidly growing humanitarian crisis. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, half of Afghanistan’s population are facing extreme levels of hunger, millions of children are out of school and the fundamental rights of women and girls are under attack.

Farmers and herders are also struggling amidst the worst drought in decades and the economy is in a free fall since the Taliban seized power. Without international aid and support, tens of thousands of children are at risk of dying from malnutrition, as basic health services have collapsed.

Canada has committed to welcome at least 40,000 refugees and vulnerable Afghans into the country. According to officials, this will be done through several programs, including a special immigration program for Afghans who assisted the Canadian government and a humanitarian program. Some 7,140 Afghans have arrived since August 2021. Earlier this week, a flight of 200 Afghan refugees landed in Vancouver.

"Please help them, help the people of Afghanistan, especially woman. It's now a suffering time for them. I am so upset," pleaded Nabila Hashimi.

Her husband said he decided to settle in Vancouver because “it has the best weather in Canada.” Due to the upheaval, his children have not been able to go to school for quite some time, but they should be able to start up again within the next month.