Some Afghans who collaborated with Italy arrived at Rome's Fiumicino airport with their families | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA/DEFENCE PRESS OFFICE
Some Afghans who collaborated with Italy arrived at Rome's Fiumicino airport with their families | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA/DEFENCE PRESS OFFICE

Italian authorities are looking for solutions to bring 81 Afghan students of La Sapienza University to Rome. The students have been stuck in Afghanistan since the first ISIS-K attack on the airport in Kabul. Moreover the university would also like to welcome another 100 people to its courses who initially weren't admitted to the university.

The vice-rector of Rome's La Sapienza University, Bruno Botta, was concise yet confident in comments he made following a meeting between the university and the Italian foreign ministry regarding the case of 81 female Afghan students admitted to La Sapienza who got stuck by the first ISIS-K attack at the airport in Kabul.

"The Italian authorities are working, that's for sure. But if you ask me when the Afghan students will arrive in Italy, I just can't answer this question," Botta said.

There are over 180 people that Sapienza would like to "welcome" in its courses. In addition to the 81 female students, there are at least 100 others, many of them men, including young researchers, teachers and students who at first were not admitted to the Roman university.

The problem of documents

According to reports, the focus of the meeting was the willingness on the part of the Taliban to allow both foreigners and Afghans to be able to leave the country as long as they have a visa from another country that wants to host them.

The problem to be solved would be to verify whether the pre-acceptance document issued by La Sapienza is sufficient to allow the students stranded in Kabul to leave Afghanistan or if other "bureaucratic" steps are necessary.

Six other students accepted by the University of Padova are in the same situation.

The 81 young women are enrolled in the "Global Humanities" course in the School of Letters and Philosophy in the Italian Department of Oriental Studies.

The situation of students who were not immediately admitted to the Roman university, however, would seem more difficult.

Days of anguish in Kabul

As the students wait, they are experiencing days of anguish in Kabul. To ensure them maximum safety, they were divided into groups and sent to protected situations in several different homes, said Italian Education Minister Cristina Messa. "They are moving around so they can avoid being identified," Messa said.

"The situation right now is protected, but we need to hurry. There is a very intense exchange between the three ministries involved and La Sapienza University. Predicting the future is difficult, but we are truly doing all we can," she said.

"So far, we have sent the list of students considered at risk, who were already accepted and in relations with our country, because they were on the priority list with the foreign ministry," Messa said.

Phase two, however, is now more difficult. "The lists of names stay in our hands only; they must not end up with the forces occupying the country. We have to find out if we can still do it with some flight, or otherwise on land," she said.

Messa said to organize flights, "we can work with France and England in a particular way". The Italian defence ministry and foreign ministry are each working on this.


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