The United Kingdom will resettle dozens of teenage Afghan female footballers and their families who fled from the Taliban, a government spokesperson said.
“We are working to finalize visas to the Afghan Women’s Development Team and look forward to welcoming them to the UK shortly,” the spokesperson said.
The team of 35 girls, whose ages range from 13 to 19, have been staying in a hotel in Pakistan after fleeing Afghan capital Kabul following the Taliban takeover.
The girls’ temporary visas in Pakistan were set to expire on Oct. 11 and they faced having to return to Afghanistan if another country had not stepped in to grant visas for them.
“Our lives have been saved and we are eternally grateful to all,” footballers Narges and Sabria told Sky News.
The two footballers specifically thanked Siu-Anne Marie Gill, the chief executive of ROKIT Foundation which supported their escape, “for keeping us all inspired.”
“It was very hard to keep believing that UK will fight for saving our lives,” the two footballers said.
According to Gill, 70% of the girls had received death threats.
Gill told BBC News that the girls would arrive in the UK in two to three weeks.
“The next step is to settle them into their new home. We will do all we can to support them in this process, and the communities that welcome them,” Gill said.
A number of British football clubs pledged to support them in the UK, including Leeds United and Chelsea.
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