Russian invasion of Ukraine forces Afghan family to flee 'another war'

By Salaam Times and AFP

Ajmal Rahmani from Afghanistan and his children are seen on February 27 as refugees from many different countries gather at the Medyka pedestrian border crossing in eastern Poland after fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine. [Wojtek Radwanski/AFP]

Ajmal Rahmani from Afghanistan and his children are seen on February 27 as refugees from many different countries gather at the Medyka pedestrian border crossing in eastern Poland after fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine. [Wojtek Radwanski/AFP]

MEDYKA, Poland -- One Afghan family has had to flee two countries in less than a year.

After leaving Afghanistan in 2021, Ajmal Rahmani believed he had found a haven of peace in Ukraine.

This week, however, he and his family had to flee again -- this time to Poland -- as Russian President Vladimir Putin last Thursday (February 24) launched an illegal war of aggression against Ukraine.

By Monday, more than half a million people had fled Ukraine, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

"More than 500,000 refugees have now fled from Ukraine into neighbouring countries," UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said in a tweet.

UNHCR had previously said it is planning to deal with up to four million refugees if the situation worsens.

But the European Union's crisis management commissioner says the figure could reach seven million.

A UNHCR breakdown issued when the total tally was slightly below 500,000 showed that more than 280,000 people have already fled Ukraine into Poland.

Over 30,000 people had crossed into Romania, 85,000 into Hungary, 70,000 into Moldova, 30,000 into Slovakia and a few hundred into Belarus, according to UNHCR.

While most of the refugees are Ukrainian, among them are also students and migrant workers from further afield, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India and Nepal.

'I lost everything'

"I run from one war, come to another country and another war starts," Rahmani told AFP Sunday, shortly after crossing into Poland. "Very bad luck."

His seven-year-old daughter Marwa clutched a beige-coloured soft toy dog as Rahmani spoke.

Together with Marwa; his wife, Mina; and son Omar, 11, the family walked the last 30km to the crossing because of the gridlock on the Ukrainian side of the border.

After arriving at Medyka on the Polish side, the family waited with other refugees for a bus that will take them to the nearby city of Przemysl.

Rahmani, who is in his 40s, said he worked for NATO in Afghanistan for 18 years at the Kabul airport.

He decided to leave the country four months before the US withdrawal because he received threats and was so scared he kept his children out of school.

Before that, "I had a good life in Afghanistan, I had a private house, I had a private car, I had a good salary," said Rahmani.

"I sold my car, my house, my everything. I lost everything," he said.

But, he added, "Nothing is better than my love, than my family life."

Rahmani said he struggled to get a visa to leave Afghanistan and decided to go to Ukraine because it was the only country that would take him in.

They set up home in Odessa -- a Black Sea port city.

Last week, when Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, they had to leave everything again and travelled the 1,110km to the border.

Warm welcome

Rahmani and his family, like others without a Polish visa, now have 15 days to register, said Tomasz Pietrzak, a lawyer with the Ocalenie (Salvation) Foundation, a charity for migrants.

The timeline is unlikely given the numbers.

"Poland will have to very quickly amend its legislation on this issue," he said.

In Poland, border guards Sunday said that 90% of those arriving were being put up by friends or relations but that reception centres were also being set up close to the frontier.

Across the country people are mobilising with offers of accommodation, money, clothes and work for the new arrivals.

Rahmani said he was concerned about the future but was encouraged by the warm welcome he received from volunteers and officials assisting the stream of refugees on the Polish side of the border.

"They gave us energy," he said.

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Afghans are exhaustedly wandering around the world because of the traitorous and treacherous political leaders. Although, the start of the war in Ukraine has nothing to do with this Afghan refugee family, but this story shows how unfortunate and unlucky the Afghans are, who did not see a day of happiness and comfort in their own country or abroad.


As long as the living conditions in Afghanistan would not change, the economic cycle will not be activated; people will not be provided with jobs, and so on. The problem of migration from Afghanistan will not be solved. Given that climate change and other natural disasters are threatening the lives of Afghans, this issue must be brought to the attention of the international community first so that it does not stop funding the projects because climate change is the result of the works of industrial activities. The international community has now stopped its development work in Afghanistan. While repeatedly promising to stand by the Afghan people, their relations were limited to the republic system. Now thousands of people leave Afghanistan every day to work in other countries. If the international community did not help Afghanistan, the number would be increasing day by day. It will turn into a headache for both Afghans and host countries in foreign countries. Infrastructure building needs to be restarted in Afghanistan to address this problem. People need to be provided with jobs; otherwise, they will leave Afghanistan and suffer there too. The United States and the international community, which are now imposing sanctions on Ukraine for its benefit, should impose sanctions on the current Afghan officials. If people continue to leave the country, if there are no jobs and we are given something in the name of humanitarian aid, then humanitarian aid cannot create sustainable eco