Baby in heart wrenching viral photo now living with family in US

·3-min read

An Afghan baby who made global headlines when she was passed to US soldiers at Kabul Airport as desperate people tried to flee Afghanistan is safely living with her parents in Arizona.

Liya was only 17 days old when she was passed over the barbed-wire fence to the US Marine Corps amid chaos at the airport as the Taliban storming the Afghan capital in August.

Now the infant and her family are living in Phoenix, Arizona.

The photo of Liya being lifted across a barbed wire wall at  Kabul Airport in Afghanistan by US soldiers.
The photo of Liya being lifted across a wall at Kabul Airport in Afghanistan by US soldiers went viral. Source: AP

A target for the Taliban

Liya's father Hameed had worked with the US military for five years as a translator and adviser, making him a target for the Taliban.

According to the Independent, he assisted with the evacuation of US citizens and allies out of Afghanistan in August, living at the Kabul Airport for a month to assist with the effort.

As he wasn't allowed to leave the secure zone, he couldn't attend his daughter's birth in early August, but not long after they decided for the safety of his wife Sadia and his newborn baby, they needed to leave.

“We got intel that people were getting killed, or going missing. By my affiliation (with the military), I knew my home would be next. It wasn’t a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when,’” Hameed told AZfamily.com.

However, as Sadia approached the airport, the Taliban confiscated her identification, cash and belongings at a checkpoint, making it near impossible to find Hameed.

Held his baby for the first time

Hameed spotted his family in the chaos, saying he could see his daughter "crying as screaming" as cannons and flashbangs were used to control the crowd.

Desperate to get baby to safety and worried she may be "crushed to death" in the crowd, he asked a US Marine for help who said their best chance was lifting the tiny baby over the fence

A still from a video of Hameed, Sadia and Liya from an interview with AZ Family. Sadia is holding baby Liya while Hameed smiles next to her.
Hameed, Sadia and Liya are now living in Phoenix, Arizona. Source: AZ Family

He was standing next to the US Marine who lifted his child to safety, and in the picture was holding the soldier’s legs to keep him from falling over as he reached over to hold baby Liya for the first time.

Sadia got through the gate to the emergency flight later that night.

Hameed and his family are now living in the Phoenix, Arizona, with a family friend.

In a GoFundMe page, Hameed explained his gratitude for making it to the US but said most of their family is still stuck in Afghanistan. 

"At the same time, we have to start our lives from scratch and with nothing at hand it is an upwards battle. At the moment a family friend has provided us with a roof, but we don't want to be a burden on them for very long," he wrote.

"The funds will be used towards medical expenses of my baby girl and her mother, legal fees to get our families out of Afghanistan and to establish our lives here. 

"Hopefully it will be the start of a great future for Liya (My Baby Girl) who had to go through so much in the dawn of her life."

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