Afghanistan’s college students are nonetheless ready for evacuation

It wasn’t at all times like this. Hafizah, whose identify has been modified to guard her identification, enrolled in AUAF as a result of it was “the best” college within the nation, providing glorious services, the possibility to review in English and finally opening doorways to authorities jobs. Her aim was to graduate and work for the embassy in Afghanistan. 

But when the Taliban seized management of Kabul final August, the college was one of many first locations the insurgents claimed. Despite the administration’s makes an attempt to evacuate all its college students, Hafizah is without doubt one of the roughly 350 college students nonetheless remaining in Afghanistan.

Another of those college students, who needs to stay nameless, says they now dwell in concern of “being captured by the Taliban and shot dead”. 

On August 15 2021, Hafizah was because of sit an examination on AUAF’s campus, positioned within the coronary heart of Kabul, close to the nationwide meeting constructing and the Darul Aman Palace.

The non-public not-for-profit college was based in 2006, funded by American support and inaugurated by First Lady Laura Bush. The college describes itself as “a beacon of educational quality and academic freedom” that “empowers rising leaders”, together with ladies and minority teams. The Taliban dislikes its Western connections and values. 

The night earlier than her examination, Hafizah says she acquired an e mail from the college administration informing her that her examination was cancelled, the campus could be closed and that the school could be leaving Afghanistan.

The subsequent day, Kabul fell and the Taliban entered the college grounds. The AUAF flag was changed with the Taliban flag, and the militant group posted an image from the campus on social media, calling the scholars “wolves” educated in opposition to Islam, in accordance with the New York Times. Students on the college have been desperately making an attempt to flee the nation ever since.

In October 2021, the Qatar Foundation introduced a brand new partnership with AUAF, stating that “over the next two years, students from the university, faculty and staff, will be temporarily hosted at Qatar Foundation’s Education City in order to continue their regular studies at AUAF”. 

The college students remaining in Afghanistan shortly picked up on the event. “When the news of the AUAF agreement to relocate students in Doha spread, every student of AUAF was excited,” stated one scholar, “and it created hope for us that we are not left.” 

The college students declare that they didn’t obtain any instant correspondence concerning the new partnership, however after a “series of emails from students”, the college instructed them that 100 AUAF college students could be evacuated by October. This didn’t occur. The college students say that they had been then instructed that 100 college students could be evacuated in November, and an extra 100 evacuated in 2022.

“Now, it has been more than five months that no one [has] heard anything regarding Doha relocation or any evacuation to another country,” the coed stated. The college students say they’ve been instructed that Qatar is not issuing visas however that the college has “promised” to relocate them. 

“AUAF is committed to doing everything we can to helping these students fulfil their potential. And for many of them, that will mean rebuilding their lives outside of Afghanistan”

“We are we are continuously mindful of the fear that our students experience today in Afghanistan,” stated Ian Bickford, president of AUAF, “and their extraordinarily authentic considerations for their very own future.

“AUAF is dedicated to doing the whole lot we are able to to serving to these college students fulfil their potential. And for a lot of of them, that may imply rebuilding their lives exterior of Afghanistan.

“We are very grateful to the state of Qatar for offering aid and continuing to work with us on the relocation and resettlement of a large cohort of our students to a safe, secure and predictable environment where they can continue their learning.”

A spokesperson from the Qatar Foundation confirmed that it’s going to assist “up to 200” AUAF college students and is “working with its partners… to bring the AUAF students, faculty and staff, to Qatar as soon as possible”.

“We are very pleased to be able to host the AUAF at Education City,” the spokesperson stated. “As part of our agreement, between Qatar Foundation, Qatar Fund for Development, and the American University of Afghanistan, QF will support the continued education of up to 200 of the university’s students, over a two-year period, all of whom will reside and study in Doha to ensure they can continue their education in a safe environment.”

The college had tried to evacuate college students instantly after the Taliban’s takeover. At the top of August, Hafizah was invited to board a bus to the airport. She waited there for over six hours together with her classmates, earlier than receiving an e mail from the college saying that the evacuation try had been deserted and they need to return house. 

Some college students did handle to depart the nation and at the moment are attending different universities. Last October, CNN reported that 109 AUAF college students had been attending the American University of Iraq whereas 106 had been on the American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan. But the scholars who stay in Afghanistan have been instructed that neither nation is at present issuing visas. 

“I am constantly frightened that the Taliban might find us out and kill us”

The college students imagine that they’re at risk whereas they continue to be in Afghanistan. In 2016, the Taliban attacked AUAF, killing 15 college students and workers members. In January 2022, it was reported {that a} former AUAF scholar had been shot and killed by the Taliban at a checkpoint on her manner house from a marriage.

“I am constantly frightened that the Taliban might find us out and kill us,” one scholar stated, explaining that they’ve destroyed their scholar ID and different paperwork connecting them to the college. 

AUAF continues to offer on-line lessons for the scholars. “It is really difficult to study and learn when you are in the situation we are in,” Hafizah stated, including that she faces issues with electrical energy and web entry. 

Hafizah is determined to proceed her schooling abroad. The Taliban famously banned feminine schooling when it was final in energy and, on March 23, the group reversed its choice to permit ladies to attend secondary college. “The moment that the Taliban took over this country, there’s no opportunity, there’s no hope for females in Afghanistan,” Hafizah stated. 

“When I first joined AUAF, I was hopeful about my future,” one other scholar stated. “But it only lasted a few months. Afghanistan remains a land of sorrow and death for young people, particularly women who want to make a better life for themselves.” 

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