AFGHAN STUDENTS DENIED US VISA TO ATTEND ROBOT COMPETITION

By: cjprincemedia

Kabul: Afghanistan, six students of war-torn hope participate in an international robotics competition in the USA. This month will see through a video link after their visa applications were not rejected once but twice.

The girls wanted to show the world that Afghans can also build a handmade robot. But 162 teams are scheduled to participate, Afghan girls are the only national team to be denied US visas and must participate from afar, looking from their hometown in western Afghanistan.

“When we learned that we were released, we lost hope,” said Sumaya Farooqi, 14. “We asked for the new US visa and they were rejected again.”

Farooqi and his companions had already faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles to reach a point where they could ask permission to attend. It took them six months to prepare, often working seven days a week because they have built a robot that orders the balls, has the ability to recognize the orange and blue colors and can move objects to put them in their correct place.

The girls traveled to their homes in Herat after convincing family members to let them go. This is no small feat in a country where girls are often dissuaded from attending college, especially in the hard sciences like math.

They travel 500 miles from the United States Embassy in Kabul twice because their petitions were denied for the first time even if this place was targeted by a deadly truck bomb May 31 where more than 150 people Died and more than 400 wounded.

Torn Afghan war faced a series of large-scale attacks while the Taliban have intensified their war against the government in Kabul during the summer offensive this year. In addition, the group affiliated with the Islamic State affiliated in Afghanistan has attempted to increase its footprint with attacks in urban areas.

Afghanistan is not part of US President Donald Trump’s order to temporarily ban travel from the six Muslim-majority countries. However, the Syrian, Iranian and Sudanese teams on this list have received visas to compete. Gambia team members obtained visas after being initially rejected. The applications of the five teams were still in progress.

The US State Department refused to comment on why they were denied visa applications from the Afghanistan team, saying: “All visa applications are considered in a case under US law.” The agency cited a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which “prohibits us from discussing individual visa cases.”

The contest is an initiative of First Global, a non-profit charity that carries out the annual international robotics challenge in hopes of sparking a passion for science and technology among high school students around the world. It is an “Olympic” style of competition in which a team from each country is invited to participate. It will run from July 16 to 18 in Washington, DC

First Global President Joe Sestak said in a posting on the organization’s Facebook page that he was “saddened” by the decision of the United States.

“How can you accept that a robot performs the customs and the difficult process, but the inventors of the robot that manufactures and can not do?” Said Mohammad Reza Rezayee, Director of the Robotic Institute Chamber of Afghanistan in Herat. “It’s really a question to answer.”

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