Refugee boy feared drowned one year ago reunites with family in Germany

Mahdi Rabani enters the arrivals hall at Hannover airport, to be reunited with his family
Mahdi Rabani enters the arrivals hall at Hannover airport, to be reunited with his family   Photo: EPA

A 10-year-old refugee thought drowned a year ago on his way from Turkey to Greece has reunited with his family in Germany.

Mahdi Rabani was last seen by his parents and siblings as they waited to board boats to the Greek island of Lesbos, along with dozens of other refugees, when the boy became lost in the crowd.

The family from Afghanistan watched as other boats sunk during the crossing and feared the he had drowned in his attempt to reach Europe.

They returned to Turkey and searched for him, but eventually headed on to Germany when their efforts failed, convinced that he was dead.

"This time was very difficult for us," said his father Ibrahim, who left Afghanistan with his family in January 2015. "How are you supposed to feel, when you lose a child and think he's dead?"

Mahdi reunited with his family

But on Monday, the boy was reunited at Hannover airport with his family, now living in Bad Bodenteich, Lower Saxony, after he was found by German Red Cross worker Rani Hijazi.

Mr Hijazi, 27, had spent a year looking for Mahdi after one of the boy's sisters told him at their refugee home about her family's situation.

The Red Cross worker first searched in Germany and then Austria before looking in Switzerland.

Mahdi was eventually found in the Swiss Canton of Bern, where he had been staying with another Afghan family.

Migrants reach the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey last month

"I knew that many people from Afghanistan travel on to Switzerland because the laws for temporary residence are better there," said Mr Hijazi.

At the airport, his mother Schockria said: “The feeling is beyond words. I am so happy and grateful that the Red Cross helped us."

"I am very happy and am glad that I can see my parents again," Mahdi said after the reunion.

German government figures last month showed that nearly 5,000 refugee children had been reported missing as of January.

Europol also recently reported that at least 10,000 refugee children have disappeared across Europe over the past year.

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Source : telegraph[dot]co[dot]uk
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