SUE REID: Why is the UN sending Afghan schoolgirls to Rwanda
‘You have to go away now or else they’re going to kill all of us,’ their academics advised them as they knocked on the women’ bed room doorways earlier than daybreak broke on August 15, 2021.
The overthrow of the nation’s democratic authorities was beneath approach. By that night Islamic insurgents had gained management of town. Police had deserted road checkpoints, residents had been hiding, and the US was withdrawing troops marking the tip of a 19-year warfare to stamp out terror in Afghanistan.
The return of the Taliban was quickly to deliver lashings, stonings, public executions – and a ruling that solely boys might have a secondary training. Within days an edict ratified by the Taliban’s ministry for the prevention of vice and promotion of advantage stopped all women over 12 attending courses.
But by then the pupils from the boarding college, known as School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA), had been spirited off to the tiny African nation of Rwanda 3,000 miles away. Before they left, workers burned their classroom information and identification papers over a bonfire within the college’s courtyard.
Two women from the School of Leadership Afghanistan, Aydin and Sajia, had been spirited off to the tiny African nation of Rwanda 3,000 miles away because the Taliban’s ministry for the prevention of vice and promotion of advantage stopped all women over 12 attending courses
The exact same UN that helped prepare for them to settle in Rwanda has criticised the UK Government’s plan to ship migrants there. Pictured: UK Home Secretary James Cleverly and Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta on December 5
The judges gave ‘best weight’ to submissions from the United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) which declared, on three counts, the nation was unsafe for them. Pictured: Hundreds of individuals collect outdoors the High Court to protest towards the Rwanda deportation proposal on September 5 2022
It meant that when the Taliban raided the constructing – as they duly did – their dad and mom left behind in Afghanistan wouldn’t face medieval punishments for education their daughters.
Within a fortnight of that bonfire, the identical women had been at their classes in Kigali, the capital of the African nation and the primary on the planet to supply them sanctuary.
‘We boarded the planes bearing solely backpacks, purses and recollections,’ remembers the Afghan college’s president and co-founder Shabana Basij-Rasikh. ‘On the evening we arrived in Kigali, we had been met by a gaggle of Rwandan trauma counsellors who invited us to belong [in their country].’
The women are nonetheless in Kigali at present. If you stand outdoors the college, as I’ve finished, you hear laughter of glad youngsters chatting within the backyard. They recite the Koran, and are taught the abilities of debating and how one can swim.
It is truthful to say the lives and futures of the women have been saved by Rwanda.
But maybe essentially the most extraordinary factor concerning the rescued Afghan women, is that the United Nations helped prepare for them to settle in Rwanda – the exact same UN that has criticised the UK Government’s plan to ship migrants there.
When Britain’s Supreme Court threw out the Government’s thought of flying asylum seekers to Rwanda as illegal final month, the judges gave ‘best weight’ to submissions from the United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) which declared, on three counts, the nation was unsafe for them.
Over the Supreme Court’s 56-page judgment, the UNHCR views are talked about 64 occasions. It mentioned the migrants may very well be ill-treated by being despatched again from Kigali to their dwelling nation, that Rwanda had a poor human rights file, and its asylum course of was faulty as a result of it had rejected claims from a ‘suspiciously excessive’ 100 per cent of Afghanis, Syrians, and Yemenis fleeing battle zones through the years 2020-2022.
Within a fortnight of that bonfire, the identical women had been at their classes in Kigali, the capital of the African nation and the primary on the planet to supply them sanctuary. Pictured: An Afghan college woman takes half in an open air class
Pictured: Afghan college women attend their classroom on the primary day of the brand new college 12 months in Kabul
The UN company’s portrayal of Rwanda left Rishi Sunak’s migration coverage in tatters and the Government now scrabbling to salvage it with new laws.
Yet it was the UN’s International Organisation for Migration which helped strike the deal to deliver the Afghani women to Rwanda to ‘present a secure area for them to obtain a secondary stage training’. What’s extra, the UNHCR itself assists the Kigali authorities in rescuing migrants stranded in Libya. More than 2,000, primarily sub-Saharan Africans, have been flown in on mercy flights from Tripoli to a brick-built village the place they’re hosted by Rwanda whereas awaiting new lives in Norway, Australia, and Canada.
All of which begs the query: If the UN thinks Rwanda is secure for Afghan schoolgirls – among the many most susceptible kids on the planet – and refugees from Libya, why is it not secure for migrants getting into Britain?
The Supreme Court’s view of Rwanda has been criticised within the nation. Foreign minister Vincent Biruta has complained of ‘unfair’ therapy by the British judiciary. Government spokesman Yolande Makolo added that the courtroom was influenced by ‘hypocritical’ and ‘dishonest’ UNHCR assessments.
In the pages of the New Times, Kigali’s foremost media outlet, one columnist wrote: ‘Who might have imagined that when Rwanda signed a take care of Britain to kind the issue of unlawful migrants making harmful sea crossings to the UK, we’d find yourself struggling extra abuse than a rented mule?
‘Who would assume that Rwanda can be vilified, its identify dragged by way of the mud. We have been hit by a vicious backlash from the UK’s opposition Labour Party and its media allies, plus different leftist organisations. Together they’ve finished their greatest to show our nation right into a bogeyman.’
The similar revered journalist, Shyaka Kanuma, concluded: ‘In the no-holds barred political tradition of the UK, any member of Labour or its leftist allies would quite contact a reside wire than enable one thing just like the immigration deal to work, which might imply handing Tories a win. They will concoct any slander, any smear, any false assertion to make it fail.’
Joseph Rwagatare, an advisor to President Paul Kagame, wrote in New Times: ‘More will probably be wanted to unravel the UK asylum drawback than throwing mud at Rwanda. We didn’t provoke this plan….and will do with out the damaging consideration, vilification and lies.’
When Britain’s Supreme Court threw out the Government’s thought of flying asylum seekers to Rwanda as illegal final month, the judges gave ‘best weight’ to submissions from the United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Pictured: Home Secretary James Cleverly and Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta
He added: ‘There are teams who wish to preserve asylum seekers the place they’re (within the UK) for their very own ends. From politicians, non secular leaders, and the humanitarian trade, together with charities and legal professionals who achieve from the continued migrant drawback.’
The Rwandan authorities believes it may well nonetheless provide an answer for Britain. Its achievement with the SOLA college for Afghan women is a heartening story. It started within the April of 2021 when President Biden introduced American troops had been to make an exit from Afghanistan to finish the US’s longest warfare. ‘It was going to be irresponsible of me to run an all-girls boarding college in Kabul,’ mentioned the college’s co-founder Ms Basij-Rasikh.
She got here up with the concept of taking the entire college neighborhood, together with workers and a few former pupils, overseas – and began looking for a rustic. The warmest response ‘by far’ was from Rwanda, and she or he grabbed it with the assistance of the UN’s International Organisation for Migration.
On August 14, 2021, the day earlier than Kabul fell, the college introduced in authorities officers to course of the women’ passports for a future flight. It was too late. The Taliban had arrived. In a US tv interview on the Rwanda college earlier this 12 months, the women spoke about how they needed to escape instantly.
In all, 256 individuals from the college left for the airport. They couldn’t journey on the Taliban managed streets collectively. Insurgents had been already manning checkpoints and they might have been noticed. Instead they went in smaller teams, preventing their approach by way of the frantic crowds additionally making an attempt to go away Kabul.
‘We had on our covid masks, we made certain our scarfs had been pulled tightly, and we wore lengthy attire,’ defined one of many rescued pupils. They had been advised to not make eye contact with the Taliban. ‘We had been scared.’
Others took up the story. ‘As we acquired nearer to the airport, individuals had been pushing and shouting. The Taliban had been capturing bullets within the sky.’ By August 17, two days after the Taliban rout, solely 100 had made it to the airport. Others had been caught at checkpoints and unable to get by way of crowds.
Forty-eight hours later, the final group of 52 had been nonetheless caught. Ms Basij-Rasikh requested a US Marine captain to assist. They left the airport for a Taliban checkpoint to seek out these lacking. After a 3 day wait on the airport, additionally they flew to Rwanda. These kids are more likely to be the one women from their nation of 40 million receiving a proper secondary college training.
As Ms Basij-Rasikh says with feeling: ‘Our college entered exile. Rwanda welcomed us. In a recognised pillar of stability in Africa, we’re setting down roots.’ If solely the Supreme Court judges might have listened to this exceptional Afghan girl’s facet of the story.