Afghan refugee renews plea for help from Canada

A 14-year-old boy from Afghanistan is renewing his desperate plea made to the Canadian government last year as his family awaits further instruction regarding their immigration application.

Last August, as the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the boy, who CTV News Toronto is not identifying for security reasons, penned a letter begging the Canadian government to provide him and his family safe haven. His family of seven has submitted an application to immigrate to Canada.

The family was initially able to flee their home last August by car, crossing the border to a neighboring country. Without a visa, however, the family was told they couldn’t stay and were sent back to Afghanistan.

After applying and being approved for a 60-day visa, the family has returned to the neighboring country and are now waiting for further instruction from the Canadian government. However, 30 of the 60 days have already passed and they say they’ve heard nothing.

“I want the Canadian government to help us exit the country as soon as possible because 30 days have passed and just 30 days are remaining,” the boy told CTV News Toronto in a video interview Friday.

The boy is urging the Canadian government to act quickly as he’s “very scared” to be sent back home again.

“I couldn’t listen to music. I couldn’t say things that were opposite to what [the Taliban] believe. I couldn’t get outside of the country,” he said.

“They’re arresting and they’re killing people.”

He said he worries for not only his, but his sisters’ and mother’s future if his family is forced to go back to Afghanistan.

“The Taliban doesn’t allow girls to go to school,” he said. “There’s a bad culture about women there — men can do anything but women cannot.”

The family’s immigration lawyer, Erin Simpson, told CTV News Toronto that they’re at great risk if their application is unsuccessful.

“Canada can and should be doing more to get people out and evacuated now, this is the moment to do it and this family should be on this list,” she said.

Simpson said she hopes the government will issue them temporary resident permits.

The boy’s aunt, who CTV News Toronto is also not identifying for security reasons, says she’s very worried for her family’s physical and mental wellbeing if they are sent back.

“I mean, he might not physically die, but I think it’s your soul that dies,” she said. “It will be extremely hard.”

If approved to come to Canada, the boy said he hopes to study at a university to be a mathematician, engineer or astronaut, adding that he plans to “raise the voice of women that are like prisoners in my country.”

When asked how he became educated on equality and women’s rights, the boy said the internet changed his perspectives.

“At first, I didn’t see how great a place the world is — I thought women should be at home,” he said. “After I got the internet, I was watching YouTube videos and women can do anything, but in my country they couldn’t do anything.”

Now, the boy says he remains waiting to hear from the Canadian government, hoping the response comes within 30 days.

“I’m hoping they hear my voice,” he said. “I want them to do something very urgently.”

With files from CTV News Toronto’s Sean Leathong and Beth Macdonell.

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