While some European countries worry about the wave of migration that may follow the Taliban’s arrival in Kabul, countries like Mexico have stepped forward to help the hundreds of thousands of people seeking to flee Afghanistan in desperation.
On Tuesday, August 24, Mexico welcomed the all-girls Afghan robotics team and more than a hundred media workers at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City.
As Reuters reported, the robotics team, made up of women and girls as young as 14, has been recognized for winning international awards for their robots and began work in March on a low-cost, open-source fan as the coronavirus pandemic hit the war-torn nation.
But once the U.S. and its allies withdrew their troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban militant group took over the country without much effort.
During their previous regime, the Taliban imposed harsh rules against women’s rights, prohibiting girls from going to school and women from working. Although the extremist group’s new leadership has promised to prioritize women’s rights and girls’ education, the desperation of Afghan citizens to flee the country casts doubt on its credibility.
And Mexico wants to ensure that this group of girls can continue their research and work in full freedom and safety.
“They have not only saved our lives, but they have also saved our dreams,” one of the group said of host Mexico during a press conference after arriving.
“Our stories will not sadly end because of the Taliban,” she added through a translator, while her face was hidden by a Covid-19 mask.
“Under this regime, we women will face difficulties…that is why we are grateful to be here,” she said.
As Reuters continued, Tuesday’s safe arrival in Mexico was made possible by a “broad international effort and the coordination of a group of volunteers” who helped the girls, according to a volunteer who requested anonymity for fear of the safety of the families who remain under Taliban control.
“We give you the warmest welcome to Mexico,” said Mexican Deputy Foreign Minister Martha Delgado as she greeted the robotics team members during a news conference at Mexico City’s international airport late on Tuesday.
As France 24 explained, the robotics team is part of a larger group of high-achieving high school girls in Afghanistan, known as the “Afghan Dreamers.” It is made up of about 20 members, most of them teenagers.
The girls made headlines in 2017 after they were denied visas to participate in a robotics competition in Washington before then-President Donald Trump intervened, and they were allowed to travel.
Last year, they worked on building a low-cost medical ventilator from car parts in hopes of improving hospital equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.