A baby bird plays the main role in an unusual and poignant tale of the dangerous and chaotic evacuation from the Afghan capital, Kabul, this fall.
The myna, rescued by a French diplomat after the chaos and fear that erupted when the Taliban occupied Kabul in August, is now in a bird cage in the sunlit living room of an embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Juji’s yellow-billed gossip story has received a lot of attention on social media, and has become a story of survival and hope.
Chaos and fear
Chaos and panic reigned in Kabul when deeply religious Taliban soldiers captured the capital in surprisingly short time. The governments of the various countries began a difficult evacuation of their citizens and the Afghans who worked with them. Thousands of Afghans desperately tried to flee.
The world was horrified watching the drama at the airport. Not least, it made an impression when an Afghan fell to his death after trying to cling to the wheels of a military transport plane, and when suicide bombers killed several Afghans and 13 American soldiers.
Become the French ambassador to the savior
For his part, French Ambassador Xavier Chatel supported the additional evacuation from Al Dhafra Airport in the United Arab Emirates. Thousands of Afghans were transported there, and it was difficult to know where one would go next – whether it was to the United States, France or other countries.
About 2,600 Afghan translators, musicians, artists, journalists, activists and soldiers traveled from Kabul to Abu Dhabi, with Paris as their final destination.
Chatel says there have been many touching stories among the evacuees.
– They were so relieved that they were evacuated, but at the same time there was a lot of tension and many sad stories between them. From his home overlooking the turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf, Chatel says those who have managed to escape to a new life abroad also suffer from confusion and guilt.
Status as a security threat
But where does the bird enter the drama?
Amid the chaos at Al Dhafra Airport, Shatel received a security alert.
Police officers, who were looking for threats and dangers from Al Qaeda and ISIS, found a suspicious package.
A young woman – no more than 20 years old – appeared with a mysterious cardboard box. They found a small bird protected inside the box. It was her very beloved pet, with clipped wings – the chattering Mina. With its charming appearance and friendly personality, this starling is a favorite among bird lovers. It is called the gray parrot, because it is also very good at imitating human speech.
Although the officers discovered there was no bomb threat, the woman could not take the bird to Paris – due to strict regulations regarding the transportation of animals.
He was inconsolable
– The young woman cried until her body shook, says Chatel. She lost everything, she lost her country, she lost her home, she lost her life. Chatel, who does not want to identify the woman for privacy reasons, says she also did not want to lose her bird.
Chatel’s story dominated what happened next Twitter last week. And immediately Joji’s story became a hit.
After receiving detailed instructions about Juji’s dietary preferences – cucumbers, grapes, slices of bread and sometimes potatoes – Chatel decided to adopt the bird. He promised that he would take good care of her.
After landing in France, the young woman found Chatel on Twitter. Her hard thinking when she was about to start her new life as a refugee was the pet stranded on the Arabian Peninsula.
Gave new hope
Chatel responded by sending videos of Goji eating fruit, flying in the white cage, and even learning a little French. After tweeting for the first time in Pashto for the first few days in Abu Dhabi, Joji was able to say something like “Bonjour”.
The Afghan woman then told me something I still thought about, says Chatel.
– She said that the fact that the bird is still alive and that it is well taken care of, gives her faith and hope that she will be able to start over.
Why this particular story took off on social media, Chatel still thinks is weird.
But he thinks it may be the lack of good news from Afghanistan this fall.
The journey continues
At Al Dhafra Air Base, you still see fear on people’s faces, Chatel recalls. The children began to cry when the explosions were heard. A woman said she forgot her parents during the chaos at Kabul airport. Chatel says parents have come up with stories about children they had to leave.
And in the midst of all this despair and tragedy, this girl stood with this bird, Chatel recalls.
The little black bird has become the memory of the frantic days and a symbol of the courage of all the people who now have to start over.
The goal is to reunite Juji with her previous owner. Chatel just needs to know how to send the bird.
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