Thursday, 2 December, 2021
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French envoy rescues evacuated Afghan girl's bird

French envoy rescues evacuated Afghan girl's bird

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A pet bird belonging to an Afghan girl who was evacuated from Kabul after the Taliban's takeover has found a new home with France's ambassador in Abu Dhabi, reports BBC.

Xavier Chatel took in the little mynah, named Juji, after the girl was stopped from bringing it on a flight from the United Arab Emirates to France.

The bird now lives at the ambassador's residence, and after days of coaching has even learnt to tweet "bonjour". Chatel has promised to try to reunite the girl with Juji one day. More than 120,000 people were airlifted out of Afghanistan between 14 August, the day before Taliban militants took control of Kabul, and 30 August, when the last US forces withdrew from the country.

About 2,600 at-risk Afghans left on French evacuation flights.

"A girl arrived at Al Dhafra airbase, exhausted, with an unusual possession: a bird. She had fought all the way at Kabul airport to bring the treasured little thing with her," Chatel wrote on Twitter.

"For sanitary reasons, the bird could not embark on the plane," he added. "She cried silently. I was moved. I promised to take care of the bird at the residence, feed him. She could visit him anytime and take him back."

Chatel bought a cage for the bird, fed it, and took it out in the mornings so he could meet other birds. Juji eventually "loosened" and started to "say mysterious things, in a language we couldn't understand".

Knowing that mynah birds are renowned for their ability to imitate human speech, he tried to teach him some French, starting with the word bonjour [hello].

"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 my daily bonjour - but sure enough he wouldn't listen," the ambassador recalled.

"...Or so I thought. Until one day, the (female) manager of the French residence sent me this bonjour that went straight to my heart."

Chatel said the bird's owner, who he identified as Alia, had been in contact from Paris and was "so happy to see her bird thus cared for".

"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 one day," Mr Chatel said.