Afghanistan's all-girl robotics team banned from going to United States for competition

Team Afghanistan at work

Six teenage girl inventors from Afghanistan have been denied entry into the United States to compete in a prestigious world robotics competition. To interview for their visas, they had to travel about 500 miles to the USA embassy in Kabul.

"We were definitely very excited to have an all-female team from Afghanistan leading the procession of nations as they walk into DAR Constitution Hall", he told ThinkProgress.

However, they had no such luck.

"They were crying all the day", Roya Mahoob, founder of the Citadel software company and a team sponsor, told Forbes.

It's not easy to get robotics equipment through customs in Afghanistan, but that didn't deter this plucky bunch. However, the fact that the U.S. has granted only 32 B1/B2 business travel visas from Afghanistan by April 2017 is indicative of the America's hesitation to accept visitors from the war-torn Middle Eastern nation.

An Afghanistan teenage robotics team is unable to compete in person at an worldwide competition being hosted in Washington, D.C. because the all girls team (above) were denied visas to enter the U.S.

Joe Sestak, FIRST Global President and former congressman, has stated that he was disappointed at the rejection of the Afghanistan Team's travel visas.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court recently reinstated parts of President Trump's travel ban, which affects immigration coming from six majority-Muslim countries, the visa denial wasn't related - Afghanistan isn't on Trump's list.

According to Forbes, the team were expecting to travel to Washington, DC later this month for the event having travelled a distance of 800km from Herat to Kabul to get their one-week visa on two occasions for two rounds of interviews.

Fourteen-year-old team member Fatemah added that she enjoyed working with robots and the feeling of making something new and that she and her colleagues "want to show the world we can do it, we just need a chance". "We want to be that child and pursue our dreams to make a difference in peoples' lives". That left just about every attendee in the room, yearning for more, yearning to figure out how as a people, we can provide better access to these important skills and tools to underserved communities, people of all ethnicities and girls.

The girls were notified by competition officials that they will instead be able to Skype into the event and show off their creations over the web. "They're young and they were very upset".

However, despite Afghanistan not being included in USA president Donald Trump's revised six-country immigration ban, they will not be able to travel.



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