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Afghan boy, 11, reunited with twin brother after year alone in France

Twin brothers from Afghanistan aged just 11 have been reunited in England after being split apart during the chaotic days when the Taliban took over the country.

September 8, 2022
By Nina Lloyd
8 September 2022

An 11-year-old Afghan boy who spent a year stranded alone in France following the Kabul airport bombing is “tired but happy” after travelling to the UK to be reunited with his twin brother.

Obaidullah Jabarkhyl spent months stuck “unhappy and scared” in Strasbourg after getting separated from his parents and siblings during the Afghanistan evacuation amid the Taliban takeover last August.

His twin, Irfanullah, made it safely to London to stay with their UK-based family while his parents and sister remained in their home country.

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Obaidullah’s family including cousin Qamar (second left) and twin Irfanullah (second right) greeted him with gifts as he stepped off the train. (PA)

On Wednesday, his wait finally came to an end and he was tearfully greeted by relatives including his twin in London following the approval of his visa application.

Obaidullah’s cousin Qamar Jabarkhyl, who is caring for the 11-year-old while he lives in the UK, has welcomed the development, but criticised delays that left him cut off from Irfanullah for so long.

“(The British government) promised back in March or February to take swift action and they didn’t. We are still thankful for the way they helped but I think they should help others because there are many other Afghans in the same situation, little kids living away from home.”

Speaking after his arrival in the UK, the 11-year-old said he was “very happy” to be with his brother again and looking forward to going to school and making new friends.

Obaidullah was separated from his parents and siblings during the chaotic Afghanistan evacuation in August 2021. (AP Photo/Shekib Rahmani, File)

The pair hugged as Obaidullah stepped off onto the station platform on Wednesday before spending their first afternoon back together watching Afghanistan face off against Pakistan in the Asia Cup cricket tournament.

After a long train journey from Paris, he was welcomed with gifts, flowers and chocolate by his relatives ahead of a family celebration later in the evening.

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Obaidullah and his cousin Qamar, who fought to get his visa approved to look after him in the UK (PA)

“I’m tired but happy,” Obaidullah said.

“I’m most looking forward to learning English at school and meeting new friends here.”

Jabarkhyl said Obaidullah was ready to “put it all behind him” and build a new life in the UK.

“When he arrived on the train Irfanullah cried for him, it was very emotional,” he said.

“He says he still doesn’t believe he’s arrived in the UK. He’s so excited to be here and he wants to put it all behind him now.”

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Obaidullah (third left) and Irfanullah (second right) were surrounded by relatives at the reunion on Wednesday (PA)
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