Afghan Fullbright scholar semi-finalists waiting for interviews

The fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban has put Afghan scholars in great risk and many have been “desperately seeking ways to safety”.

“We cannot even figure out if anyone is doing anything for us”

A report by The Los Angeles Times highlighted the struggles of Maryam Jami, a Fulbright semi-finalist who applied this year to earn a master of laws in the US. 

Jami is one of about 100 applicants in Afghanistan who has been named a semi-finalist and is waiting for an online interview. However, six months later, she still had not heard when that interview would take place. 

“We are running out of time,” Jami told The Los Angeles Times, who has been spending most days indoors at home to avoid Taliban soldiers. 

“We’re not receiving any information. We cannot even figure out if anyone is doing anything for us.”

In a statement The State Department, which administers the program through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, said that they are tracking events in Afghanistan closely and are reviewing the future of the Fulbright program.” 

“We are committed to the aspirations of Afghan students and scholars, and appreciate the continued interest of the semifinalists in study in the US. We know that this is a challenging time for these Afghan students and their families,” they said. 

Recently a group of higher education associations, networks and scholar protection leaders urged European governments and EU institutions to take action to protect Afghan students. 

“We, the undersigned higher education associations, networks, and leaders in the field of scholar protection, urge European governments and EU institutions to take immediate action to secure the lives and careers of Afghanistan’s scholars, students, and civil society actors,” the appeal said.

Institutions and organisations that signed the appeal included the PAUSE program in France, the Philipp Schwartz Initiative of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Council for At-Risk Academics and the IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund.

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