Child evacuated from Afghanistan dies of terminal illness in US custody

CBS News reports that a six-year-old Afghan child who was brought to the United States without family members during the evacuation operation in 2021 passed away on June 13. The child, who was suffering from a terminal illness, was under the care of a pediatric center in the United States.

According to CBS News, the young boy was among the many children who were evacuated to the U.S. in 2021 without their parents. Some of these children were unable to reunite with their parents due to their inability to board a U.S. evacuation flight, while others lost their parents during the chaos.

Upon arrival in the United States, these children, without parents or legal guardians, were placed under the care of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, which provides support for unaccompanied minors. The Office of Refugee Resettlement confirmed the child’s passing in a statement released on Thursday, saying it stemmed from “severe encephalopathy,” or brain disorder.

This is the third death of an unaccompanied child within a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) facility this year. The department disclosed that the boy had recently been transferred to the HSC Pediatric Center in Washington, D.C., where he received 24/7 nursing care for those with a terminal illness.

“Medical treatment was provided according to the parent’s wishes and aligned with the recommendations of the hospital’s health care provider team,” U.S. HHS said in a statement. “Our heart goes out to the family at this difficult time.”