France keeps Afghan students in dark over scholarships
Afghan students kept in the dark for months over whether they will be awarded French scholarships are now scrambling to get out of Afghanistan via any available route.
A group of around 17 Afghans applied to the prestigious BGF scholarship run by the French government before Afghanistan fell to the Taliban.
The disheartened young students have yet to be told the outcome of their scholarship applications, almost one month after French diplomats said a final verdict would be issued.
“This scholarship was my first priority,” said scholarship applicant Abdullah Ahmadi, who holds offers for environmental science courses at the Cote d’Azur and Junia-ISA Lille universities.
The Afghans feel as though they have fallen “into a trap” while waiting for France to tell them who had been awarded the scholarships, Ahmadi told The New Arab.
The students have received emails from universities saying the BGF scholarships had been awarded, but do not know which of the applicants were given the prize.
“No one in our group has been given the scholarship,” said Ahmadi. “So who was awarded it!”
The scholarship, which usually goes to around 20 to 25 students, was downsized earlier this year to help just five or six.
The silence from France is very “disappointing”, said Ahmadi, who assumes the French scholarship is no longer an option and is hoping to get a visa to Iran or Uzbekistan and then go to Vietnam instead.
“I have nothing to lose,” said the 27-year-old, adding that his future was destroyed when the Taliban took control.
Another student, Ahmad Fahim Aziz, told The New Arab that the group was considering self-financing “because they do not have any other hope”.
Aziz asked that if there are no scholarships, France should just “support students for study visa or even immigration... because we have lost everything. All focus and our hope was on this programme”.
Aziz said he has nobody to support him if he remains in the country as his parents are no longer alive. He has a sister who is meant to be in the final year of her bachelor's degree but has faced problems with closures and restrictions placed on women under the Taliban.
France has evacuated around 3,000 people from Afghanistan since the Taliban seized Kabul.
Paris has refused to recognise Taliban rule, but French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has engaged in negotiations with the insurgents over future evacuation efforts.