Q&A: The IRC helps Afghan refugee family reunited after five years apart

An American man and his son from Afghanistan who shared a family bond even on their first flight to the US five years ago returned to their native country together last weekend after an International Rescue Committee (IRC) program helped them reunite.

“The welcome party was a much-needed celebration for a family who suffered much separation while away from one another,” said Katie Phipps, East Coast director for the IRC, in a statement. “A family is stronger when it truly consists of a strong father and son, and they were sorely missed while they were apart.”

The last time both father and son met in Afghanistan was when US secretary of state Mike Pompeo was announced as the country’s new foreign minister in 2012.

“The IRC has been with this family for five years,” said Chad Rezaee, director of program development at the IRC. “It helps a family recover emotionally, when they are so torn apart. These families experience loss, fear, and trauma every day.”

The three-week program helped the father, Muhammad Akbarullah, with his visa in Afghanistan, his son Sarid, in Jordan, and also provided money and transportation for both of them. Akbarullah, an educator, was awarded a Keneh incubator and a small business loan from the IRC and Sarid, a computer engineer, went to a high school where he is now accepted.

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