About 200 girl students and dancers made a daring escape from Afghanistan with the help of the Toronto, Canada Prince Charles charity, Canadian media reported Monday, Anadolu Agency reported.
The girls and their families will resettle in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan within the next few weeks, said the Canadian immigration minister.
“(We will) exhaust all the options to help Afghan refugees get to safety in our country,” Marco Mendicino told the Canadian Press news service. “Offering refuge to women, girls and persecuted minorities is at the heart of Canada’s humanitarian response to the crisis in Afghanistan.”
The refugees fled Afghanistan to escape Afghanistan’s Taliban interim government, which issued a decree late last week that girls could not return to high school.
The refugees tried to get out via the airport in the capital Kabul but it was too dangerous. Rebuffed, the group spent weeks trying to find a safe passage by land and eventually did, reaching Pakistan. The exact route is being kept secret for security reasons.
In 2010, Britain’s Prince Charles set up Prince’s Charities Canada, whose Toronto branch played a key role in planning the escape. The group expressed relief that the Afghans got out safely.
“They are a highly inspiring community and now they have an opportunity to grow and continue their education in Canada,” said Mark Fell, the chair of Prince’s Charities Canada.
In about three weeks, the girls and families will travel to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where they will settle after going through COVID-19 quarantine.
Saskatoon has a population of about 274,000. There is an Afghan community there. but the number of Afghans was not immediately available. However, some of the refugees who escaped reportedly have family there.
The country’s 2016 census shows there are about 76,000 Afghans living in Canada, according to Taylor and Francis, a UK-based company that publishes academic books and journals.