About 30 Afghan women who were granted scholarships to study in the United Arab Emirates have been blocked from leaving Afghanistan.
These women had been sponsored to study in the UAE by prominent Emirati businessman Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, but were stopped from departing on their flights from Kabul airport on Wednesday.
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan after the United States withdrew its troops, many women and girls have been banned from attending high school and university in the unsettled country.
Laila, one of the women who cried out for help said:
“It was our only hope to go abroad to continue our education. This was an amazing opportunity for us but, like everything else, this opportunity was taken from us.”
Laila said she and the other women made it to their departure gate but were turned away at the last moment by men in airport uniforms who said they had an order that those with student visas were not allowed to leave the country.
Al Habtoor, the founding chairman of the Al Habtoor Group, who was sponsoring the women said about 100 women had been granted scholarships in collaboration with the University of Dubai and that Al Habtoor Group staff had worked for months to ensure everything was in place for them.
“The authorities in Afghanistan, without justification, prevented their departure, unjustly curtailing their freedom… I request all involved parties to quickly step in and help rescue and assist these struggling students.”
“They have the right to study, they have the right to do whatever the men can do and there is no exception to that,” he said in an accompanying video.