Calgary father desperate to get his wife and daughter out of Afghanistan
Bahray says he hasn't been sleeping, especially after seeing videos of explosions near their home
When Bahray came to Canada as a refugee from Afghanistan in 2011, he hoped his new wife and young daughter would soon join him at his Calgary home.
Now, after a decade of struggling with the immigration system, he's fearfully watching as the Taliban seizes control of his home country — and wondering what will happen to his family back home.
CBC is only identifying Bahray by his first name, as he's concerned speaking out could make his family targets of the Taliban.
"I'm not sleeping," Bahray said. "This is so hard."
Thousands are desperately trying to flee Afghanistan following the Taliban's armed seizure of Kabul over the weekend. Bahray said he's seen video of explosions not far from the home where his family is staying.
When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, they followed a strict interpretation of Sharia law, prohibiting girls from attending school and forcing women to wear burqas. Critics of the regime were violently suppressed or publicly executed.
Bahray said he fears for his daughter's future.
"I want my daughter to come here for education, for school, for everything," he said.
The Taliban has vowed to allow more freedoms for women and amnesty for previous government officials, but many human rights advocates in the international community remain skeptical.
"[The Taliban] believes that the rights of women are practically non-existent … girls as young as 12 or 13 could be subject to rape or forced marriage by the Taliban. These are real fears," said Peter Wong, Bahray's lawyer.
"For [Bahray] to see what's going on in Afghanistan today, it's unimaginable."
Bahray came to Canada under a Group of Five sponsorship alongside his siblings.
He's applied twice to sponsor his family to join him in Canada under humanitarian and compassionate grounds, but both applications have been rejected. The second application is under review by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, but it has yet to reach a decision — and the pilot program, which enabled the review, ends in less than one month. CBC has reached out to IRCC for comment.
Wong said the amount of time Bahray has been waiting to rejoin his family is outrageous. His daughter, who was one-year-old when he came to Canada, is now 11.
"To take 11 years in my view is unconscionable, it lacks any degree of humanitarian concern," Wong said.
The federal government has pledged to resettle 20,000 vulnerable Afghans. Bahray hopes his family will be resettled soon, too.
With files from Elissa Carpenter