Hamed Ahmadi: Afghan refugee's meager ration goes viral, slammed as 'ungrateful'

Many, especially conservatives, felt that he was being ungrateful; while some said the food was not adequate


                            Hamed Ahmadi: Afghan refugee's meager ration goes viral, slammed as 'ungrateful'
Hamed Ahmadi and the food he was served at Fort Bliss. (Twitter/@ahmadihamed_)

An Afghan refugee who shared a photo of his meager food ration at Fort Bliss has caused a stir. On September 2, 28-year-old Hamed Ahmadi tweeted a photo of his evening meal - two slivers of chicken, a few small chunks of cantaloupe, and a bit of bread. The ration was supposed to last him 12 hours until his next meal. Ahmadi wrote, “Not complaining but this is what I got last night for dinner and the next meal is 12 hours later. Refugee life might be safe but never easy & favorable. Fort bliss El Paso Texas. #AfghanRefugees #afghanistan.”

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Ahmadi, a Fulbright semi-finalist, as per reports, is now living in a tent with 70 others at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, just days after escaping from Kabul, Afghanistan. A journalist and scholar, Ahmadi spent the past five years in Kabul with his parents and siblings. He did not want to flee Afghanistan. His brother died two months ago as a special ops fighter with the Afghan National Defence Forces combatting the Taliban

He also said that another sister died last year of Covid-19. He added that another sister, who is pregnant, is currently in hiding from the Taliban because she had been a member of the Afghan police force.

“I used to travel to different provinces of Afghanistan and interview people and cover day-to-day stories of Afghans at the grassroots level -- and how they ... resolve their conflicts,” he said. “Basically, most of the stories were about how people approach conflicts and peace-building at the community level.” He added that he felt he needed to leave his home because he felt that he was in danger, “because I had a very strong social presence. I had a very bold social media appearance when I was doing my job. I was going to these unsafe provinces back in Afghanistan and also unsafe villages.” 

He said, “I had a lot of pictures doing jobs with Americans, with Germans, so I was kind of in danger -- because you cannot trust the Taliban. They definitely claim that they’re not posing any threat to Afghans who worked with international NGOs and foreigners ... but we hear stories that they’re seeking reprisals and revenge, especially [against] journalists. That was an active threat for me. So I couldn’t just simply sit and see what’s going to happen to me.”

Ahmadi’s tweet caused a stir. Many, especially conservatives, felt that he was being ungrateful. “How about “thank you”? Be grateful. Have some humility and exhibit some dignity. No one owes you anything. I’m a refugee from Lebanon and I’m forever grateful,” read one response. Another response said, “So we rescued you from Afghanistan and are giving you food that the taxpayers are paying for and you have the nerve to complain? In the words of @RealBrysonGray, ‘if you don’t like this country you can leave’.” One person wrote, “Got a free trip to America while Americans are being held hostage by the Taliban, and the ingrate is complaining about the food.”



 



 



 

At the same time, many also empathized with him. “For all of the people saying this person is ungrateful, seriously ask yourself if this amount of food would fill you up?? That’s the amount most of us eat as a snack in between meals. It’s not enough food for a meal, especially if that’s it for 12 hours,” wrote one person. Another person said, “To all the Americans in the replies; Have some heart, you just bombed his country for 20 years, he probably helped you do it. He is a refugee, can't work to support himself. He is not a hobo who has no job. You can give him a decent meal for few days till he can support himself.”



 



 

“The point of that tweet was not ... to be complaining, to be very critical,” Ahmadi told The Independent. “I was just describing a situation of Afghan refugees that are in the situation that they never really wanted to be in. I had a pretty good job back in Kabul. I had a decent life. I had my family. I was forced to flee Afghanistan ... if I had more space [on Twitter], I would have added more explanation -- because I wanted to say that this is the refugee life. And we need to be patient.”

“I was so excited about coming to the United States as a student,” he said. “But now, trust me -- I’m not that excited ... to be in the United States because of this whole situation. Everything happened so fast, and I don’t really feel like I’m in my dream country.”

A spokesman for Fort Bliss told The Independent that the base was responsible only for infrastructure -- providing the “arms and back” emergency facilities were built on -- but did not keep lists of refugee names or numbers. He directed queries to federal agencies, with the State Department also declining to give specifics.

“Due to the complicated nature of these evacuations and to protect the privacy and security of the arriving Afghans, we are not providing specific numbers at locations on arrival times/airports/carriers, housing locations, processing timelines, or onward destinations,” the spokesperson said.

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