Rescued hostage Joshua Boyle says children are 'improving'

The Boyle children have been held in Afghan captivity their entire lives.

— -- Rescued Canadian hostage Joshua Boyle said his children are "improving" after spending their entire life being held captive in the mountains of Afghanistan.

“The children are improving, we mentioned before that the eldest Najaeshi Jonah was doing well but that his younger brother Dhakwoen Noah was still struggling as much as ever with even just being able to look at his grandparents faces without terror,” Boyle told CP24 in an emailed statement last week.

Boyle arrived in Toronto with his wife, Caitlan Coleman, and their three children on Friday after being held hostage for five years by a Taliban-affiliated terrorist network. The family was rescued in Pakistan on Wednesday in a dramatic operation orchestrated by the U.S. and Pakistani governments, officials said last week.

He said Dhakwoen was initially afraid of his grandparents, but he warmed up to them “literally overnight” after his grandmother made him a hearty pancake breakfast.

“Obviously he's still incredibly troubled and stressed over everything, but it's a major step,” Boyle said, speaking of Dhakwoen’s newfound love for his grandma. “She's the first person he's accepted since 2015.”

He said his daughter, Ma'idah, still finds it hard to be around other men.

“She still can't be within a metre of any man except her father but if she sees a woman she starts squirming and trying to get over to her, regardless of who it is — to nestle in the love,” Boyle said.

Boyle and his wife, who was pregnant with their first child at the time, were kidnaped while on a backpacking trip in Afghanistan in October 2012.

The couple had four children while in captivity, but Boyle said their fourth child, an infant daughter, was murdered by their abductors. The Taliban has denied those claims.

Boyle said the family is currently living with his parents in Smiths Falls, Ont., located about an hour south of Ottawa, which he his children's "first true home."

"We have reached the first true “home” that the children have ever known – after they spent most of Friday asking if each subsequent airport was our new house hopefully," Boyle said in a separate statement on Saturday.

"Full medical work-ups for each member of my family are being arranged right now, and God-willing the healing process – physically and mentally can begin," he added.