MEXICO-AFGHANISTAN-REFUGE
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Mexico welcomes Afghanistan’s all-girls robotics team as refugees

“They have not only saved our lives, but they have also saved our dreams,” one of the girls said

Members of Afghanistan’s all-girls robotics team can rest easy after safely arriving in Mexico with dozens of other refugees fleeing their native country after the Taliban regained control of the landlocked nation at the crossroads of Central and South Asia.

After traveling through six countries before arriving at their destination, the robotics experts happily landed in Mexico City aboard a Qatar air force flight. “They have not only saved our lives, but they have also saved our dreams,” one of the high-techs said after been greeted by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard.

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An Afghan woman, member of the Afghanistan Robotic team, is seen during a press conference after her arrival to Mexico after asking for refuge, at the Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City, on August 24, 2021. - The Mexican government received on Tuesday five Afghan women, members of an internationally awarded robotics team, that decided to leave Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power.

“Our stories will not sadly end because of the Taliban,” the girl added, as reported by the New York Post. “Under this regime, we women will face difficulties … that is why we are grateful to be here.”

The all-girls robotics team will be living in Mexico with humanitarian visas, that as of now they are valid for up to 180 days. The refugees have the right to renew or apply for a status change and become permanent residents of the Latin American nation. “We want to tell them from the bottom of our hearts that they are home,” Ebrard said.

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he Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard (L) welcomes four Afghan women, members of the Afghanistan Robotic team, during their arrival to Mexico after asking for refuge, at the Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City, on August 24, 2021.

The four Afghan young women are part of a 20-member group of high-achieving high school students. According to the publication, they are known as “Afghan Dreamers.”

In 2017, the girls traveled to the United States to participate in a robotics competition in Washington. In 2020, they built a low-cost medical ventilator from car parts, contributing to hospitals lacking equipment due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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Members of the Afghan all-girls robotics team carry their robot onto the competition floor on July 17, 2017, during 2017 FIRST Global Challenge competitions at DAR Constitution Hall, in Washington, DC.

Under the Taliban, neither the all-girls robotics team nor women, in general, can continue studying or working on projects of any kind. Through their interpretation of Islamic law, the Deobandi Islamist religious-political movement and military organization prohibits girls from attending school. Under their ruling, women need to be confined to their homes and only go out accompanied by men. These and many more rules can be punishable by stoning and execution if violated.

According to AFP, the Taliban started restricting women and “warned them not to cross that red line.” They also said that they are not trained to respect women. As of today, Mexico has welcomed approximately 130 refugees, including journalists. “It’s about those who are risking their lives to report, to communicate, who are committed to freedom of expression,” Ebrard said.

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