Kigali to temporarily host Kabul schoolgirls

Monday August 30 2021
Afghan schoolgirls

Afghan schoolgirls taking mid-term exam at a school in Kabul in 2019 but now need refuge abroad. PHOTO | AFP

By Johnson Kanamugire

Girls from the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA) an elite first and only boarding school for girls arrived in Rwanda after the country accepted to temporarily host them at the request of the school's founder.

While officials in Kigali have not given details on the evacuees from Afghanistan, the 250 girls are expected later to be resettled in the US and other countries.

Rwandan Education ministry officials did not discuss details of the help the girls would get, instead referred The EastAfrican to the Office of the Government Spokesperson (OGS) for a comment.

The OGS said that apart from the announcement by the Ministry of Education welcoming the girls from SOLA, “the government of Rwanda has no further comment for now.”

The OGS equally said no details were available when asked about arrangements underway to receive Afghan evacuees, and the exact number the country would take in.

While Rwanda has offered to assist the US to host Afghan refugees, the cohort is yet to arrive and it is not clear when they will arrive as the evacuation exercise was interrupted by explosions near Kabul Airport.


“The United States and the government of Rwanda have agreed in principle to host a number of Afghani evacuees but no further details are available for now.”

Among those to be evacuated include the school girls, faculty, staff and family members of the privately-run School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA), the sole girls boarding school in the country.

Fluid situation

On August 24, the management of the school confirmed on Twitter that the group had completed the departure from Kabul, and are expected to begin a semester in Rwanda.

“SOLA is resettling, but our resettlement is not permanent. When circumstances on the ground permit, we hope to return home to Afghanistan,” said Shabana Basij-Rasikh, the school’s founder.

The Ministry of Education said tit looked forward to welcoming the SOLA community to Rwanda for their study programme.

“The US government is grateful for the support of our partners like Rwanda who have agreed to accept Afghan refugees.

‘‘At present no additional details are known as to when Rwanda may see refugees as the situation in Kabul remains fluid. For any information about Rwandan citizens, we refer you to the Rwandan government,” a United States spokesperson told The EastAfrican.

Rwanda, which is home to 120,000 refugees, largely from neighbouring countries, has in the recent past had similar arrangement with the EU and took in 30,000 African refugees and asylum-seekers from Libya, currently accommodated at the Emergency Transit Centre awaiting resettlement in third countries, voluntary return, or local integration.

The country has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Denmark in April this year for co-operation on asylum and migration issues.