Many young Afghans, including girls, used to attend Nur Sultan universities thanks to a cooperation agreement. Now they are unable to return to Kazakhstan to resume their courses and are worried about their future.
Nur Sultan (AsiaNews) - Many Afghan students studying at universities in Kazakhstan are stuck in their homeland, where they had returned for the summer, and now they cannot return to Kazakhstan to continue their studies. As Radio Azattyk reports, the students are very worried about their future.
The 20-year-old student J. (the name is not revealed for security reasons) has to start the fourth year of the Kazakh-Turkish International University "Ahmed Jesevi" in the city of Turkistan. Since 2020 the students have been in an online regime due to the pandemic, and many like J. had returned home, but the new school year is supposed to start in attendance, and J. is not at all certain that she will be able to get a visa to Kazakhstan.
J. maintains that "Afghanistan today is dangerous for women in general, and much more so for those who study. Since August 15th we see very few women on the streets, we don't believe in the promises of the Taliban, who could easily give me in marriage to someone against my will. We want to be free, like all the young people in the world, but our dreams are breaking: we risk losing our history and our future, our whole world is disappearing... I received an education, I evolved, how can I close myself up in my house now?", J. repeats in perfect Kazakh idiom.
Zabihullah, a fifth-year student at the same university as J., is also stuck at home without a visa to return to study. As he explained, Kazakhstan did not issue him the needed visa and the Kazakh embassy in Kabul will not receive students. "I approached the university on behalf of 30 other students, asking to talk to the ministry in case there is no answer for us on the visa. If we stay in Afghanistan, all our efforts and commitments will end in nothing," the student explains in good Russian.
According to data from Kazakhstan's Ministry of Education and Science, there are currently more than 100 Afghan students studying in the country, thanks to a cooperation agreement with Afghanistan. A few years ago Kazakhstan allocated 50 million dollars for hosting Afghan students in its universities; according to the agreement, after the conclusion of the free period of courses students must return to work in their own country.
The ministry assures that scholarships and enrollments will be preserved and that visas will be renewed as soon as possible, as also confirmed by a representative of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, Ajbek Smadjarov. It has not been specified when the paperwork will be completed, given the extreme uncertainty of the situation.
Thousands of people are trying to cross the Afghan borders to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, on foot or by any other means, including "illegal planes". Several of them are precisely trying to reach Kazakhstan, considered the safest of the Central Asian countries for Afghan refugees.
The Consul General of Turkmenistan in Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif met on August 20 with local Taliban leaders to try to regulate the flow of people to their country, as communicated by the Turkmen Foreign Ministry. The meeting was reportedly held "in a friendly atmosphere."