Afghan girls travel to Washington for robotics competition


When Afghan 10th-grader Fatemeh Qaderian learned that her girls' robotics team had been denied visas to attend an global competition in Washington - despite applying twice - the 14-year-old said she "lost hope". "We applied again for the USA visa and we were rejected again".

"After hearing about the girls' case, Trump asked officials at the National Security Council to assist in the matter, and they, in turn, consulted the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security", explains CNN.

"It's impossible to express how excited I am", Qaderian said.

However, Afghans are often rejected for US entry because there is a concern they will overstay their visas and refuse to go back home. The young engineers will be allowed entry under a protocol known as "parole", in which they will not be given formal visas but can remain in the United States for no more than 10 days.

Earlier, visas issued to the students of Gambia. He credited "the professional leadership of the U.S. State Department" for ensuring that all 163 teams from 157 countries, including a team of Syrian refugees, would be able to participate.

On Thursday, Sestak said that the Afghan girls and a team from the West African nation of Gambia - which had also been rejected at first - had their visas approved.

Ambassador Alice Wells is the acting U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

On Tuesday, U.S congressman Joe Courtney and congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici sent a letter signed by 53 members of the United States House of Representatives to the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to issue visas for the girls.

An all-female team of Afghan teenagers finally boarded a plane to attend a USA robotics competition Friday, after intervention from President Donald Trump.

As a result, the NSC consulted the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, which ultimately granted the girls entry into the USA on a temporary "parole" status, meaning they can remain in the country for 10 days without an official visa as long as there is a public benefit to their visit. "It's an important step for Afghan women". "Despite all the deprivations we have, we can prove that we have something to do and raise our voice in the world". The Taliban were ousted by the USA -led coalition in 2001. Embassy staff complimented them, Mehraban said, but told them they had run out of the visas.

Politico notes the move to grant the Afghan team status to enter the country comes after sweltering condemnation over their refused visas.

At the time, the team had this to say on its website, via HRW: "We want to make a difference and most breakthroughs in science, technology, and other industries normally start with the dream of a child to do something great". "The American people have given us lovely messages of support".