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Preventing dozens of Afghan women from going to study in the United Arab Emirates

Preventing dozens of Afghan women from going to study in the United Arab Emirates

Dozens of Afghan women have been prevented from leaving their country to study in the United Arab Emirates, where they received scholarships, one of them told AFP Thursday after protests from their sponsor.

• Also read: Afghan women demand the right to study in their country

• Also read: Anxiety, relief, despair and pride: Afghans recount two years of life under Taliban rule

• Also read: Afghanistan: The Taliban celebrates the second anniversary of its “seizure” of power

Laila is one of about 30 women who were sponsored to study in the UAE by renowned Emirati businessman Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor but were, at the last minute, denied boarding at Kabul airport on Wednesday.

She explained that uniformed men from the airport, along with other women whose studies they sponsored, were turned away at the gate and told that they had been ordered to prevent student visa card holders from leaving the country.

Taliban officials did not respond to AFP’s requests for comment or confirmation of the existence of such an order.

After the Taliban authorities returned to power in August 2021, young girls are no longer allowed to attend secondary schools and study at university.

“Our only hope was to go abroad to continue our studies,” said Laila, 22, who was due to start studying law.

“It was an extraordinary opportunity for us, but like everything else, this opportunity was taken away from us,” says the young woman, whose name has been changed for fear of reprisal.

In a video posted on social media site X on Wednesday, Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, who funds the young women’s studies, urged the Afghan authorities to allow them to leave their country to study.

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Mr Al Habtoor explains that around 100 women have been awarded scholarships in cooperation with the University of Dubai and that the staff of the Al Habtoor Group, of which he is the founding chairman, worked for months to make sure everything was in place for them. Access.

“The Afghan authorities have unjustifiably prevented their departure and unfairly restricted their freedom… I call on all concerned parties to intervene quickly to rescue and assist these students who are facing difficulties,” he asked.

“They have the right to study, they have the right to do whatever men can do and there is no exception to that,” insisted the English-speaking businessman.