The Taliban has banned at least 60 Afghan women from travelling to Dubai to take up a scholarship at the University of Dubai.
Some 100 women were offered funded places at the university by the Al Habtoor Group but many were stopped at the airport by Taliban officials and prevented from boarding their flight to Dubai.
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, chair of the group, posted a video on X (formerly Twitter), criticising the Taliban’s decision.
“They refused them to board their plane and already we have paid for their aircraft,” he said.
“We have organised everything for them here, accommodation, medication, transportation, security everything.”
I am unable to express the disappointment I feel now as The Afghan female students, whom I had provided an educational scholarship in collaboration with the @uniofdubai presented by Dr. Eesa Al Bastaki @ebastaki, were unfortunately unable to reach #DubaiAirport this morning to… pic.twitter.com/gJK9dB2yTf
— Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor (@KhalafAlHabtoor) August 23, 2023
The video also includes a voice note from an Afghan woman who was prevented from boarding her flight to Dubai.
“I don’t know what to do, please help us,” she said. “We are so concerned about this matter.”
Writing on X, Al Habtoor said the Taliban’s interference had “left me lost for words to describe the disappointment I currently feel”.
This is the latest in a string of actions by the Taliban stopping women and girls from accessing education, including barring women from attending university in 2022.
The incident has provoked international outrage from campaigners and human rights groups.
“This feels like the door slamming shut”
Heather Barr, associate director of the women’s rights division at Human Rights Watch, described the ban as “particularly painful.”
Speaking on the BBC, Barr said, “We’ve done research on the situation girls who have been pushed out of secondary school are facing and one of the things we’ve heard from them is one of the small tiny shreds of hope that keeps them going from day to day is the dream that one day they might be able to get a scholarship and study outside of the country and this feels like the door slamming shut”.
In a statement on X, Amnesty International condemned the Taliban’s decision, calling it a “flagrant violation of the right to education and freedom of movement”.
“The Taliban de-facto authorities must immediately reverse their decision and allow these female students to travel and study,” the group said.
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