Afghan girls who were banned from US win top European robotics prize

Members of the Afghan all-girls robotics team

A group of highly-talented girls from Afghanistan, who were denied entry to the U.S., have gone on to win a top prize at a major European robotics festival.

The all-girls team hit the headlines when they were briefly denied entry to the US over the summer, writes The Independent.

They won the Entrepreneurial Challenge at the Robotex festival in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, and refer to itself as “Europe’s biggest robotics festival”.

Afghanistan’s ambassador to the UK, Said Jawad, said in a statement: “We are extremely proud of the wonderful accomplishments of the Afghan All-Girl Robotics Team”.

The team’s win consists of a “small cash prize and an invitation to take part in a larger event in the US in May 2018 where they will compete for investment money which they can use to start their own company, the embassy in London said.

14-year-old Fatemah Qaderyan, who was part of the team and made two journeys to the US Embassy in Kabul, said: “We still don’t know the reason why we were not granted visas, because other countries participating in the competition have been given visas.”

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.

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The decision was met with international outrage and the US authorities eventually reversed their decision.

They won a silver medal at the competition.

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