Navid (pictured), two, was paralysed in the deadly blast at Kabul airport on August 26 that killed 183 people
The UK Foreign Office is putting off life-saving procedures for a child paralysed at Kabul Airport by terrorist attacks during Britain’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Navid, two years old, was killed along with his family in the blast which claimed the lives of 183 others, including 13 US Marines on August 26th. This explosion triggered the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan.
While his parents and nine-year-old sister escaped unscathed, Navid – whose father had hoisted him on to his shoulders to protect him from the scrum trying to flee the Taliban – was hit by razor-like shrapnel, sustaining appalling injuries to his head and back.
British surgeons were able to offer complex surgery which could save the boy from paralysis in a matter of hours.
Foreign Office officials assured that the boys and their family would be evacuated to Britain.
Navid, nearly four months later and still stranded at Kabul’s border as his family desperately prays that his situation will not worsen so London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital can take action.
Last night, Navid’s father – who The Mail on Sunday is not naming to avoid the threat of Taliban reprisals – said: ‘We are reaching out our hands to Britain and to God to help us with Navid’s treatment. I, like many others who have suffered this suffering, only desire a normal and free life.
Last week, the Foreign Office was hit with devastating allegations that home-work and bureaucracy contributed to thousands upon thousands of Afghans in desperate situations, who could otherwise have been taken to safety by the Taliban.
Navid was among them, having been injured when a bomb was detonated in the crowd by ISIS-K terrorist group. He was taken to the hospital.
Although Afghan doctors saved his lives, they lacked the expertise to perform the complex neurosurgery he required.
The youngster was in hospital and his family appealed for assistance to British campaigners.
Navid’s father lifted him onto his shoulders to shield him against the Taliban scrum. He was then struck by shrapnel like a razor and suffered terrible injuries.
The case was brought up by the Foreign Office after Navid was informed of his plight by the British diplomat at Washington DC.
Great Ormond Street was also reached out and they agreed to support the boy’s journey to the UK.
On the morning of August 28, a Foreign Office official was provided with the details of the consultant at Great Ormond Street willing to perform the surgery – yet the last evacuation flight left later that day without the injured youngster.
There was however enough space for 170 animals from the Kabul refuge run by Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing.
Navid’s family was not notified by the Foreign Office until August 31, 2012.
Three months later, the child remains in Afghanistan, where two shrapnel pieces are placed beside his spine. This could make paralysis on his right side permanent.
Navid’s father, recalling the terror attack at airport, said, “As we stood in the Abbey Gate crowd, we were warned that there was a possibility of terrorism.” The explosion that occurred to our left was only metres from us.
After the explosion, bodies and blood were everywhere. Although scared, I knew that I was safe.
“I found my husband and daughter among the people. Both were uninjured. Navid was beside me and I could tell he was well.
British surgeons were willing to do surgery in order to save Navid’s paralysis. Navid is still stranded in Kabul almost four months after the surgery. Image: Kabul Airport explosion on August 26
“We managed to escape via an open canal. It was filled with sewage, rubbish and even barbed wire which sometimes stuck to our feet. Navid was covered in blood, which the family discovered.
He said that he felt his blood turned to ice and that he was feeling the same.
The stranger pulled the family from the drainage ditch. They ran to the car but were stopped by terrified people.
Navid’s father raced towards the nearest hospital, holding his son tightly in his arms. A passing motorcyclist then heard their cries and brought them to safety. His father stated, “Thankfully, God saved Navid for us.”
Navid was discharged from the hospital, but his family is forced to flee the Taliban by moving between their homes.
Navid’s distressing cries can make it harder to hide from police patrols. He also associates Navid’s injuries with being held in the arms of his father, so won’t hug him.
His father said that his son was mentally not well because of the traumas he had suffered in Afghanistan.
“Not only the painful memory of Navid’s injury, but also Kabul’s fall and its loss of hope for tomorrow.
“Our present situation is full of terrible anxiety and worry about what’s going on. The Taliban have repeatedly stopped me and beat me at their checkpoints.
Navid is the son of the Hazaras Shia Muslim family that was subject to the Taliban’s wrath.
He was abducted and beat by hardline members five years ago.
He stated that he was lined up on two occasions and an execution scene performed. He said, “I thought I was going mad.”
The family has faced frustration since August 31st, when Navid was informed by the Foreign Office via email that Navid had created a “crisis team case file” under Navid’s account.
They waited three weeks for an answer to their inquiry. Then, an official replied to the request to update them.
There were many weeks of unanswered emails and phone calls. Finally, an official at Pakistan’s British High Commission, Islamabad asked Navid for further information on November 24.
Contractor working for the Foreign Office sent Islamabad a file about Navid’s case on November 29, 2009.
This included the note that Navid was in urgent need of treatment to prevent life-threatening disabilities and threats to his life.
The family’s supporters say that no progress has been made since. Last night, MPs expressed concerns about the Foreign Office’s handling the matter.
Navid’s devastated family prays that his condition won’t worsen until the Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, can perform. Photograph: Navid after the explosion.
Tom Tugendhat (Tory MP) was chairman of the Commons foreign Affairs committee. He stated: “The tragedy surrounding the evacuation is so devastating that it has even affected the children.
“This little boy was loved unconditionally by his parents. They hoped for a better tomorrow.” It is an awful record of failure.
David Lammy, Shadow Foreign Secretary, said that this appalling case shows how poorly the government has handled withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“We cannot abandon these children who are desperate for our assistance. Ministers have to implement the resettlement plan they had promised to Navid and his family, even though it has been delayed for months.
Navid’s dire situation was revealed by Raphael Marshall (foreign Office whistleblower) who released a 39 page dossier that details the disastrous handling of Afghanistan.
He claimed that only 5% of people who applied for assistance to Afghan soldiers, civil servants and “extremely vulnerable persons” received it.
According to him, during an evacuation, he was responsible for processing emergency emails in a single afternoon. He also stated that there could have been up to 5,000 messages unread at one time with desperate subject lines like “Please save my children” and similar.
The bureaucratic errors he observed were partly due to the ‘work at home’ culture of civil servants, who were encouraged to go after eight hours to maintain ‘work-life balance.
The then foreign secretary Dominic Raab was also criticised for failing to cut short a holiday in Crete to deal with the crisis, while Sir Philip Barton, the £185,000-a-year head of the Diplomatic Service, was savaged by MPs last week when he admitted that he took his full two-week holiday, which ended 11 days after Kabul fell to the Taliban.
The spokesperson of Great Ormond Street Hospital said that they were aware of the little boy, but had not been provided with any updated medical information.
“If he felt it appropriate and was able, he would come to GOSH to receive treatment. We will then have a discussion on how we can help him.
According to a Government spokesperson, the government is urgently reviewing this matter and will contact the family. Over 3,000 Afghans were evacuated by staff from the UK Government.
“We will continue to make every effort to ensure safe passage for British citizens and Afghans who are eligible to leave Afghanistan.