200 Afghans, mostly women, escape Afghanistan with the help of a Canadian charity | The Canadian News

Dozens of Afghan students have escaped the Taliban with the help of a Toronto-based charity and are heading to Saskatoon after a daring overland trip that lasted weeks.

Almost 100 girls have managed to flee to Pakistan with their families after being unable to leave Kabul before the airport closes. Several Afghan dancers were also part of the group.

They will head to Saskatoon in the next three weeks, Canada’s immigration minister confirmed Sunday.

The group of about 200 Afghans spent weeks trying to find a safe route to evade the Taliban, who recently regained political control of the country and opposes women’s education.

On Friday, the Taliban decreed that male high school students should return to the classroom, but not girls.

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Prince’s Trust Canada, which is a charity created by Prince Charles that supports programs for youth and veterans and was involved in coordinating the escape, said she was relieved that the group had finally reached safety.

“They are a very inspiring community and now they have the opportunity to grow and continue their education in Canada,” said charity president Mark Fell.

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The Taliban promote Afghan women’s education while limiting learning

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With the support of the youth charity, the girls tried to escape by air after the Taliban seized control of the country in a blitzkrieg last month. But conditions were too dangerous to allow the girls and their families to reach the Kabul airport.

They then tried to reach another Afghan airport and considered fleeing over the border with Uzbekistan before finally escaping to Pakistan via a route that cannot be disclosed for security reasons.

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The federal government confirmed Sunday that it plans to resettle the students and their families in Saskatoon. They are expected to travel there within two to three weeks and will be quarantined upon arrival in Canada in accordance with federal measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

About 35 Afghans have already arrived in the city of Saskatchewan, which is home to a small community of refugees from that country.

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Fell said the Prince’s Trust wholeheartedly supports the choice of the city the group will soon call home.

“The Canadian government selected Saskatoon,” he said. “It’s a great place for them to settle down.”

Another smaller contingent of female students, who managed to escape with the main group, traveled to Mexico, a spokesman for the immigration minister said.

Click to play video: 'Afghan Refugees Thankful To Settle into Calgary's' Bright Future ''

Afghan Refugees Grateful To Settle into Calgary’s ‘Bright Future’

Afghan Refugees Grateful To Settle into Calgary’s ‘Bright Future’

The Canadian press agreed not to share details of where the girls are from or where they were being educated for safety reasons.

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Federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Canada “will exhaust all options to help Afghan refugees get to safety in our country.”

“Providing refuge for persecuted women, girls and minorities is at the heart of Canada’s humanitarian response to the crisis in Afghanistan,” Mendicino told The Canadian Press.

“More than 200 girls and their families will soon start a new life in Saskatchewan, which is further proof of that commitment and we will not stop there.”

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On August 13, the federal government announced that it would resettle 20,000 Afghans who had fled their country and establish a special program for especially vulnerable Afghans, including women leaders, human rights activists, journalists, persecuted minorities and members of the LGBT community. as well as the relatives of former interpreters who have previously fled to Canada.

There were also 3,700 Canadians, Afghan refugees, including former interpreters and nationals of other countries who were flown by Canada out of Afghanistan before US troops completed a frenzied withdrawal from the country in late August.

Click to play video: 'New Canadian Center in Peterborough welcomes 78 Afghan refugees'

New Canadian Center in Peterborough welcomes 78 Afghan refugees

New Canadian Center in Peterborough welcomes 78 Afghan refugees

Since taking over the country, the Taliban have targeted female students and their teachers. An attack in May on a girls’ school in Kabul, which took place before the Taliban formally returned to power, killed more than 85 people, many of whom were attending classes.

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Organizations that help refugees settle in Saskatoon offer language classes, as well as assistance in finding accommodation and employment.

They also run programs where local families can donate children’s furniture, clothing and toys, while local schools offer support to help refugee students adjust.

Ifti Khan, a Saskatoon-based driving instructor who is originally from Pakistan and teaches refugees to drive, said the city is a “welcoming place” for refugees.

“This is a place where you can live your life freely,” he said. “There are many opportunities here to grow and get an education and we have a lot of space.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press


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