Former UO students and family of our Afghan employee safe
The family of an Afghan working at the University of Opole and former UO students from Afghanistan are being looked after by Polish soldiers at Kabul airport. Some have already departed for Uzbekistan, while others are to be transported on another plane. Sixteen of the 18 people whose arrival was being fought for by people from the UO have been successfully evacuated.
For several days, the authorities of the University of Opole have been organising help for a group of Afghans connected to our university. They appealed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence, some politicians joined in, and private contacts were also established The action on the part of the UO was organised by Halina Palmer-Piestrak, head of the UO international office.
“We're the only university in Poland that cooperates with Afghanistan as part of the Erasmus+ programme, and I can't imagine we could remain indifferent to what's happening there now”,‖ says Halina Palmer-Piestrak, university coordinator of the Erasmus+ programme at the UO.
The aim of the action taken by the staff and authorities of the UO was to evacuate from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan former students of our university who had studied in Opole as part of the Erasmus programme between 2016 and 2018, as well as the family of the Afghan UO employee.
Getting into Kabul airport was the most difficult and dangerous part of the mission.
“After repeated attempts, our people took an advantage of the situation when the gate was opened for a few minutes and they got into the airport. We sent them instructions on how to stand out from the crowd. We also sent pictures of them to our military personnel so that the American troops would know who they were. It was an all-day dramatic action, but fortunately it was successful," said Dr Michał Wanke, coordinator of the Erasmus+ programme at the Faculty of Philology of the OU, in a statement for a local newspaper.
On Saturday evening, a part of the group departed for Uzbekistan. The other part was supposed to wait for the next plane, but it was known that they were already safe.
The authorities of the University of Opole are in constant contact with Polish officials. The evacuees will certainly need comprehensive assistance. - We will not leave anyone without help - assures Dr Wanke.
The University of Opole is the only university in Poland to cooperate with universities from Afghanistan under the Erasmus+ Programme. In the academic years 2016-2019, the UO cooperated with 5 Afghan universities: Taj Institute of Higher Education, Salam University, Kabul University, Rana University, and Kardan University.
A total of 37 student and staff mobilities were carried out over these years.
Sources: NTO and GW