Afghan girls’ robotics team who were denied entry to US wins top European competition

Teenagers 'an example of what can be accomplished by Afghans if given the opportunity'

Harriet Agerholm
Saturday 02 December 2017 19:30
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Members of the Afghan all-girls robotics team make adjustments to the team robot in the practice area on July 17, 2017
Members of the Afghan all-girls robotics team make adjustments to the team robot in the practice area on July 17, 2017

An all-girls robotics team from Afghanistan who hit the headlines when they were briefly denied entry to the US over the summer, have won a major European competition.

The Entrepreneurial Challenge at the Robotex festival in Estonia challenged entrants to solve a real-world problem that would also appeal to potential customers.

Three of the 12 members of the team from Herat, Afghanistan's third-largest city, won with a robot prototype that used used solar energy to support small-scale farmers manage their land.

“We are extremely proud of the wonderful accomplishments of the Afghan All-Girl Robotics Team,” Afghanistan’s ambassador to the UK, Said T Jawad, said in a statement.

"They are an excellent example for people around the world of what can be accomplished by young Afghans if given the right support and the opportunity to excel in their education.”

Earlier this year, six members of the team were denied US visas they needed to compete in a Washington-based competition.

The reason for the denial was unclear, but after an international outcry, the decision was reversed and they were able to enter the country through a “parole” process that allows otherwise ineligible visitors to enter on humanitarian grounds or because it benefits the public.

The teenagers were then allowed to enter the country via a process usually used to allow visitors into the country on humanitarian grounds. They won a silver medal at the competition.

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