2014 Humanitarian Hero Aziz Ahmad Rahimi

DUTY STATION: Afghanistan
POSITION:  Senior Programme Assistant

"Humanitarianism means Humanity."

STORY

The most rewarding part of Aziz’s work with IOM is tracing Afghan minors deported from Iran and reunifying them with their families in Afghanistan. He also works to provide medical services for Afghans who are deported or returned spontaneously from Iran, and he facilitates treatment for drug-addicted returnees. 

In his 12 years with IOM, Aziz has been responsible for many different activities, including the Return and Reintegration Programme for Internally Displaced Persons, disarmament, demobilization, reintegration of former combatants, micro-credit, the Afghan Civilian Assistance Programme, the socioeconomic reintegration of Afghan returnees from Iran and Pakistan, and the Humanitarian Assistance Programme. 

His work as a Senior Programme Assistant involves cross-border return and reintegration, through which IOM provides humanitarian and transport assistance to vulnerable undocumented Afghan returnees from Iran. The programme contributes to their reintegration in Afghanistan and limits the possibility of further displacement or re-migration. 

Some cases are especially difficult, says Aziz. Some returnees he helps are not only undocumented, but are virtual strangers in Afghanistan, having been born in Iran. Others are deaf, mute, or both. It’s also challenging to find shelter for women who have no family ties in Afghanistan, who have been abandoned by their families, or who suffer from mental illness. 

One of Aziz’s memorable moments was helping 18-year-old Hashim. An unskilled labourer doing construction in Iran to help support his family in Afghanistan’s Ghor Province, Hashim was badly injured on the job, suffering severe burns over 50 per cent of his feet. Unable to gain treatment beyond simple amputation in Iran, Hashim returned to Afghanistan via Islam Qala, where he was met by IOM staff. 

Initially treated in an IOM clinic at the border, Hashim was transported by ambulance to the Herat Burn Centre. It took five months of treatment and many operations, including the amputation of five toes and various skin grafts. But Hashim was finally discharged from the centre—with his feet.