Afghanistan's all-girl robotics team banned from going to USA for competition
Jul 04, 2017, 00:25
A team of six girls from Afghanistan has been denied travel visas to the United States, where they were hoping to compete in an global robotics competition with other STEM kids from around the world.
To attempt to get their visas, the girls traveled twice to Kabul, the site of frequent terror attacks and a 500-mile trek from the girls' home in Herat, for two rounds of interviews, all to no avail, Forbes said. Journeys of any length have become highly unsafe in Afghanistan with the Taliban holding large swaths of territory across the country and insurgent attacks common across highways.
Roya Mahboob, who founded Citadel software company in Afghanistan and was the country's first female technology chief executive, is one of the team's sponsors.
The U.S. State Department declined to comment.
He added, "I was deeply saddened about the Afghan team not getting visas, for as I told so many of you during our phone calls, I was going to be so proud when I watched these young, courageous Muslim girls lead the 164 nations" teams into Constitution Hall, the Hall of "We the People" here in America'.
Afghanistan is not one of the six Muslim majority countries targeted in Donald Trump's travel ban. But one roadblock prevented them from competing in person in the USA - visa approvals. A video celebrating the team will reportedly be played at the competition.
According to former congressman Joe Sestak, who is the president of FIRST Global, the girls will be able to watch the competition of Skype. "The girls, they're showing at a young age that they an build something". "We want to show the world we can do it, we just need a chance", she said, speaking through a Persian translator.
The U.S.is very stingy when it comes to distributing such visas to citizens of Afghanistan, and only granted 32 in the month of April-a low figure compared to other countries, Forbes reports.
Still, the team built a ball-sorting robot on a shortened timeline; their kit only arrived three weeks ago.
"It's a very important message for our people".
While the U.S. government does not comment on individual applications, records show it is notoriously hard for people to get B1/B2 business travel visas from Afghanistan with just 32 in April of this year. A causality, Sestak said, of Afghanistan's notable low acceptance rate for visas. "They're young and they were very upset". Teams from Sudhan, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt will be in Washington DC for the competition that runs July 16-18th at Constitution Hall.
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