The Ambassador of France to the United Arab Emirates has revealed how he saved a baby bird that a young girl fleeing the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan had smuggled with her during rescue evacuation operations.
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The UAE helped more than 20,000 people who led Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban regaining control of their country and facilitated the evacuation to countries around the world.
Among those was a young girl, Alia, who was evacuated to Al Dhafra Air Base in the UAE, wrote diplomat Xavier Chatel on Twitter.
In her possessions when she arrived from her 1,800 kilometer journey from Kabul was a tiny young bird.
“This is a story I have been meaning to tell for a while,” the diplomat said. “During the Afghan evacuation operation, a young girl arrived at Al Dhafra airbase, exhausted, with an unusual possession; a bird. She has fought all the way at Kabul airport to bring the treasured thing with her.”However, the diplomat said for sanitary reasons, the bird could not leave with the young refugee as she embarked on her next plane to France, where she would be rehomed with thousands of other Afghan refugees.
“She cried silently. I was moved and I promised to take care of the bird and feed him. I said she could visit him any time and take him back. I won’t forget her look of gratefulness.”
The diplomat said that during a fortnight at the base, he was only sleeping about three hours each night, so intense was the evacuation of desperate Afghan refugees.
However, he still found time to feed the bird – which he named Juji – and managed to take the small creature to the French embassy in the UAE.
“This energetic little mynah managed to escape his box and make a big mess in the car,” he wrote on social media, sharing a video which has since been viewed thousands of times. “He hid behind the seat and wouldn’t budge. When I tried to talk him into coming back, the fierce little fellow showed me that if he survived the Kabul airport, I was no match.”
However, the diplomat said he refused to give up on the promise he had made to the young refugee.
“I bought him a nice cage, fed him and took him out in the cool morning so he could see other birds. He has a girlfriend now – a dove that visits him every day.”
The diplomat then began noticing the bird was trying to communicate.
“He loosened up and started, at night, to say mysterious things, in a language we couldn’t understand. He spoke!”
“I tried a few minutes every day to teach him French words, starting with ‘bonjour’. But the thing is – Juji doesn’t like men – he frowned at me and looked angrily, while he giggled at females. I went on trying hopelessly with my daily ‘bonjour’ but sure enough he wouldn’t listen.”
That was until a female colleague at the embassy sent the diplomat a video showing the bird finally saying the French greeting.
“That went straight to my heart,” he said.
“Today, from Paris, the bird’s owner, ‘Alia’, found me on Twitter. She was so happy to see her bird cared for. She wanted me to teach him French, Alia, your bird has become the embassy’s mascot, but he is here for you, and if I can, I’ll take him personally to you at one point.”