Afghanistan’s women’s junior football team, and their immediate families, will be relocated from Pakistan to Britain after being granted visas by the UK government. “We are working to finalise visas to the Afghan Women’s Development Team and look forward to welcoming them to the UK shortly,” a UK government spokesperson told CNN.
They continued, “The government is committed to doing all it can to support those most in need, including vulnerable women and girls, and those at risk who have had to flee Afghanistan.” Back in August, the UK government announced a resettlement plan for Afghan citizens facing threats of persecution from the Taliban after the U.S. troops were evacuated.
The plan prioritizes girls, women, and religious minorities. The UK will take in about 20,000 refugees over the next five years or so. According to the ROKiT Foundation, a UK based charity that assists the resettlement, 35 young football players, mostly teenagers, and their families missed the airlift evacuation in August.
“With the assistance of some very brave people on the ground in Afghanistan, the girls made the perilous journey in small groups to the Pakistan border and all were, eventually, able to get through,” said Jonathan Kendrick, the founder of the ROKiT Foundation.
Former Afghanistan football captain Khalida Popal tweeted on Saturday, “These girls deserve the best they have been through a lot. They have the right to dream. Thanks to the government of the UK for accepting to be the host country for them. Thanks to amazing orgs that made this possible.”
The CEO of the ROKiT Foundation, Siu-Anne Marie Gill, said the charity would “continue to offer support in the UK, including helping the refugees to arrange further education, as well as trials for the players with several of the English professional women’s football teams who have already expressed great interest in meeting them.”
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