RTA, POOL, CNN, OBTAINED BY CNN
By Karol Suarez and Mitchell McCluskey, CNN
Five women from Afghanistan’s renowned robotics team arrived in Mexico on Tuesday, following the country’s takeover by the Taliban.
The five women, along with one of their partners, were transported on a commercial flight to Mexico on Monday, funded by different organizations, Martha Delgado, undersecretary for multilateral affairs and human rights at Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a press conference on Tuesday.
A frantic Western evacuation operation at Kabul airport has picked up pace after the Taliban said Tuesday that they were no longer allowing the evacuation of Afghans. Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden made clear he aims to stick with his August 31 deadline to withdraw troops from the country.
Many of those fleeing the country since the Taliban took over have been educated people, especially women. The last time the Taliban ruled, women were banned from working and forbidden to attend schools and universities.
“Following the tradition of solidarity and with the feminist foreign policy of the Mexican government, we have carried out many diplomatic efforts to create a safe passage that would allow us to bring them to Mexico,” Delgado said, “We give you the warmest welcome to Mexico.”
The women will have a humanitarian visa for up to 180 days, after which they may have the option of an extension, Delgado said.
An institution based in Mexico, which was not named for security purposes, offered accommodation, food, and basic services at no cost for the team members, Delgado said.
“We are very happy to be here and it is an honor that the government of Mexico has honored us with being here and having saved our lives,” team member Fatemah Qaderyan said in the press conference.
“From now on forward we will have opportunities for many more achievements in our lives, and thus be part of the fight for a better life,” Qaderyan said. “Although we are far from our homes, we will always be united and thanks to your help we will achieve it, thank you very much, we really appreciate having all our things here in Mexico with us.”
Several other members of the team had previously been evacuated to Qatar, according to the country’s government.
The team received worldwide attention in 2017 after they were twice denied entry to the United States for a robotics competition, until former President Donald Trump intervened.
The team received further recognition for creating ventilators made from used car parts to care for Covid-19 patients.
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