Afghanistan’s all-girls robotics team reportedly desperate to flee country

An all-girls robotics team in Afghanistan that recently made headlines for building a ventilator prototype using old car parts is desperate to flee the Taliban-conquered country — and is begging Canada to take them in.

“They’re worried about what tomorrow brings. They want to continue to be educated. They want to continue to be the future of Afghanistan, but it’s an extremely tenuous and dangerous situation for them,” human rights lawyer Kimberley Motley told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on Sunday.

Motley said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — who met the girls in 2018 — had been an “amazing supporter” of the group, according to Gizmodo.

The lawyer wants Canada to remove the girls from Afghanistan, where the Taliban toppled the government of former President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday, and presumably provide them with refugee status.

The team notably built a ventilator out of car parts to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic in their country.
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images

The 20-member robotics team — comprising girls ages 12 to 18 — were hailed in Western media as the future of the war-ravaged country, as well as a shining example of how women’s rights had improved after the US invaded following 9/11.

“Unfortunately, what’s been happening to little girls over this last week is that the Taliban has been literally going from door to door and literally taking girls out and forcing them to become child brides,” Motley told the CBC.

Human rights lawyer Kimberly Motley says that the situation in the country can be dangerous for them.
Human rights lawyer Kimberly Motley says the situation in the country can be dangerous for them.
Photo by Mohd Samsul Mohd Said/Getty Images

“And we are very, very concerned of that happening with this Afghan girls robotics team — these girls that want to be engineers, they want to be in the AI community and they dare to dream to succeed,” she said.

“And we are literally begging the Canadian government. We’re begging Prime Minister Trudeau, who has been an amazing supporter of the Afghan girls robotics team, to please allow them to come to Canada.”

She called the girls’ meeting with Trudeau in 2018 a “huge life-changing experience.”

“They came to Canada, they competed in Canada, and actually they won the competition and they won the Rookie Star Award when they came there, which was the highest honor that they could win in their category for a robotics competition,” Motley said.

“And so they want to be educated. They want to be in a safe place. They want to make Afghanistan proud, and they want to make the world proud and to continue on with their robotics dreams, their A.I. dreams,” she added. “And they believe that Canada would be an amazing place to continue to basically have a future.”

The team previously traveled to Canada to compete in a competition.
The team previously traveled to Canada for a competition.
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images

During the height of the pandemic last year, the girls said they were on a life-saving mission to build a ventilator from used car parts and help their war-stricken country battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If we even save one life with our device, we will be proud,” 17-year-old Somaya Farooqi said at the time.

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