AMES supports refugee through horrific ordeal

24 November 2020

AMES Australia settlement staff have supported Afghan refugee Abdullatif Stanikzai through an incredibly gruelling ordeal in which he was shot by terrorists in his homeland forcing him to flee; and then almost killed by an infection that was the result of skin graft surgery in Australia.

A trauma surgeon in Afghanistan Dr Stanikzai was attacked by the Taliban several times after three wounded Taliban fighters died in the care of his trauma team.

The men had been shot and captured in a gun battle with police who demanded they be kept alive so they could be interrogated.

Despite the best efforts of Dr Stanikzai and his team, the men could not be saved. And just days later came a chilling message from the dead men’s comrades: ‘you killed our people, we are coming for you’.

From this point Dr Stanikzai was catapulted into a cascading series violent terror attacks. He was shot twice, members of his family were murdered and he was forced to flee for his life.

But ironically, it was after he had been resettled in Australia as a refugee that he came closest to losing his life after a botched skin graft operation left him in intensive care with septic shock and septicaemia.

Now, slowly recovering from his ordeals, he is desperate to get his remaining family members to Australia and out of harm’s way; and he plans to resume his medical career.

Dr Stanikzai has been supported by AMES settlement staff in South Australia and Victoria.

His AMES Australia case manager Issa Yusuf says it is difficult not to be impressed by Dr Stanikzai’s strength and resilience.

“Abdul is an inspiring person. He has been through a terrible time but he is now recovering and has hopes for his future. It has been very rewarding to support him,” Issa said.

Now, Dr Stanikzai’s priorities are to bring his family and fiancee to safety and to find a pathway to be able to resume his medical career.

He has grave fears for his family and shows a picture of what looks like grenade fixed to the front door of his family’s home compound.

“I worry about my family. They are still being threatened and they have to move every few months,” Dr Stanikzai.

“I have applied to bring my family here to safety but there are requirements for documents and letters and difficult processes to go through. But my family cannot go out so it is difficult to obtain these things and in my condition currently I’m not able to do much,” he said.

Before becoming ill in Adelaide, Dr Stanikzai had passed the first of a series of exams needed to achieve registration as a doctor.

“When my health has improved I want to continue to study to regain my medial career,” Dr Stanikzai said.

“It has always been my dream to be able to help people through my medicine,” he said.

Read Dr Stanikzai’s full story in iMPACT Magazine.