Many Afghan students studying at United States universities through scholarship programmes say they are unable to return home as it endangers their lives under the current Taliban regime, according to a media report.
In the last academic year, more than 100 Afghan students availed the Fulbright scholarship programme. As per the terms of this scholarship program, students are required to return to their home countries at the end of their academic programs however much has changed in their home country now and the Afghan students are fearful of their safety, the Voice of America (VOA) reported.
Some of these students arrived just days before the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan. As the conflict kept brewing the US embassy in Kabul was also closed.
Maryam Rayed who left Afghanistan last August to pursue a master’s degree in democracy and governance at Georgetown University in Washington, told VOA, “I have come to terms with the reality that is going back to my beloved Afghanistan and working there is no longer possible.”
Spokespeople at the Department of State and the Institute of International Education, which administers the Fulbright program, could not confirm to VOA whether there was a plan to waive the Fulbright requirement for the Afghan students to return to their home country after their studies are completed, reported VOA.
Another Afghan Ahmad Raheb Radfar who worked as a foreign service officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs until August 2021 for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan went to the U.S. to study international affairs at the State University of New York in Albany.
He said, “My plan was to return to Afghanistan and resume my work at the ministry upon the completion of my program. But now, given the current situation of Afghanistan, I cannot do that,”
“We have been in touch with the [Fulbright] program administrators and have shared our concerns with them, but so far, they have not offered any assurance about our future,” said Radfar.
A lot of Afghans helped the US in Afghanistan or had an affiliation with the US before Kabul fell to the Taliban and US, out of fear that the Taliban would target them evacuated tens of thousands of these Afghans.
There is no U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan to process visas, and travel from the country is extremely restricted and complex.
“We are reviewing the significant safety, logistical, and programmatic constraints which must be overcome to successfully implement the 2022-23 Fulbright Program. We are committed to remaining in communication with the semi-finalist group about the status of the program, understanding they must pursue the choices that make the most sense for themselves and their families,” a State Department of official told VOA.