Rwanda Hosts 250 Afghan Schoolgirls, Staff Fleeing Taliban Rule

The Rwandan government will host dozens of Afghan schoolgirls who have been relocated after the Taliban took control of their country.

The founder of the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA), Shabana Basij-Rasikh, said 250 students from the school were en-route to Rwanda via Qatar to participate in a “semester abroad” for every student.

She said they hoped to resettle temporarily for only a semester and return to Afghanistan when the situation would permit.

She said: “Last week, we completed the departure from Kabul of nearly 250 students, faculty, staff, and family members. Everyone is en route, by way of Qatar, to the nation of Rwanda where we intend to begin a semester abroad for our entire student body.

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“So many individuals played key roles in our departure, and while I can’t thank you all here, I want to publicly offer my gratitude to the governments of Qatar, Rwanda, and the United States for their critical assistance.

“SOLA is resettling, but our resettlement is not permanent. A semester abroad is exactly what we’re planning. When circumstances on the ground permit, we hope to return home to Afghanistan. For now, I request privacy for our community.

“My heart breaks for my country. I’ve stood in Kabul, and I’ve seen the fear, and the anger, and the ferocious bravery of the Afghan people. I look at my students, and I see the faces of the millions of Afghan girls, just like them, who remain behind.

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“Those girls cannot leave, and you cannot look away. If there’s one thing I ask of the world, it is this: do not avert your eyes from Afghanistan. Don’t let your attention wander as the weeks pass. See those girls, & in doing so you will hold those holding power over them to account.

“My commitment to the women and girls of my country, just like my commitment to my students, is unwavering. They are the fires that will never go out. Finally, I want to thank you all for the outpouring of love and support.”

Afghans have been growing desperate to leave their country, in fear of living under Taliban rule, and thousands have been evacuated to other countries.

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The Taliban, which enforced a strict version of Islamic law when they ran Afghanistan before 2001, retook full control of the country more than a week ago.

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