Advertisement

Refugee who came to Cleveland 20 years ago now desperate to get family out of Afghanistan

Afizullah Solemanshah came to Cleveland as a refugee in 2003. He doesn’t speak much English, so...
Afizullah Solemanshah came to Cleveland as a refugee in 2003. He doesn’t speak much English, so his son translated for him over the phone.(Kelly Kennedy)
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 10:45 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - One man from Afghanistan is more desperate than ever to bring his family here to Cleveland following the attacks Thursday near the Kabul airport.

Afizullah Solemanshah came to Cleveland as a refugee in 2003. He doesn’t speak much English, so his son translated for him over the phone.

“I just speak this morning with the family members, and they are running from one house to another house trying to escape the Taliban,” Solemanshah said.

Once he was able to get a job and become a citizen, he was able to bring his wife and sons here, but he still has lots of family members in Afghanistan including his daughter. Solemanshah said two years ago the Taliban killed his brother.

“She cannot leave the house; nobody can leave the house,” Solemanshah said. “The situation is pretty bad in Afghanistan and they’re under the influence of the Taliban and we’re just hoping everything gets better but at the moment I’m counting my days.”

The father says he’s been trying to bring his daughter here for more than a decade, but so far, he’s been unsuccessful.

“I saw what happened today and I’m waiting for tomorrow to see what happen tomorrow,” he said. “When tomorrow is gone then I have to worry about the next day about what’s going to happen the next day and I’m not sure how many days people can survive, who can survive.”

He had a message for those watching in Cleveland. “They worked so hard for the past 20 years in Afghanistan,” Solemanshah said. “They brought schools. There was a lot of infrastructure in Afghanistan. There was a lot of changes now my message to the people of Cleveland is that they should know that the Taliban is the same people the Taliban never change.”

Joe Cimperman is the president of Global Cleveland. His organization is dedicated to helping refugees safely come to Cleveland.

“Monday with refugee response and Catholic Charities we hosted a legal clinic for people who are living in Cleveland from Afghanistan to work to get to the people who are in Afghanistan out and to Cleveland,” said Cimperman. “It’s a very long process. We don’t have a lot of time.”

Global Cleveland said over the past week roughly 40 refugees from Afghanistan have come here, but they are expecting many more people to come in. If you have family members who need help, he has a resource page on their website.

Copyright 2021 WOIO. All rights reserved.