Story at a glance

  • The team’s parent organization worked with the Qatari government to arrange the evacuation.
  • “The idea that Afghanistan might fall back into the hands of the Taliban had been something we were concerned about for some time,” Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown, a board member with the Digital Citizen Fund, said.
  • The DCF said the members of the team arrived safely in Doha.

Several members of a celebrated all-girl robotics team from Afghanistan were safely evacuated last week as the Taliban carried out its takeover of the country. 

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The Digital Citizen Fund (DCF), the team’s parent organization, ramped up plans to help evacuate team members from the country on Aug. 12 as it became clear Kabul would be taken over by the militant group known for its oppressive treatment of women and girls. 

“The idea that Afghanistan might fall back into the hands of the Taliban had been something we were concerned about for some time,” Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown, a board member on the DCF, told Changing America. 

Roya Mahboob, Digital Citizen Fund’s founder, and Schaeffer Brown requested Qatar’s assistance as members of the government had stayed in touch with the team after a visit to Doha in 2019.  


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The organization worked in cooperation with Qatari government officials for days to expedite the visa process and ultimately secured a plane to fly team members out of Kabul after outbound flights from Afghanistan were repeatedly cancelled. 

The DCF said the members of the team arrived in Doha, Qatar as government officials helped organize a “safe passage” for them. The group said they are “deeply grateful to the government of Qatar” for their help. 

“Now that it has happened there is a great deal of coverage and concern for the team. We appreciate this and hope it translates to long-term commitment to girls' education,” Schaeffer Brown said. 

“This is the most effective way to guarantee their safety and a better future for everyone,” she added. 

The team, made up of high school-age girls, has gained notoriety for overcoming war, terrorism and gender discrimination to pursue education in engineering and robotics and compete internationally. 

Previous reports claimed an Oklahoma woman helped secure the evacuation, but Schaeffer Brown says those reported efforts were separate from the DCF and Qatari government’s work. 

 

Editor's note: This story was updated to include the work and efforts of the Digital Citizen Fund.


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Published on Aug 20, 2021