Afghan girls’ robotics team who were denied US entry wins Europe’s top contest

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Afghanistan’s all-girl robotics team, previously denied US entry, won the Entrepreneur Challenge on Wednesday at Europe’s largest robotics festival, the Robotex festival in Estonia.

The group of teenagers who come from the western city of Herat, attracted international attention last summer when they were briefly denied visas to the US to take part in a robotics competition.

The girls won an award at the top festival in Europe held in Tallinn on November 24 through 26, the Afghan embassies in London and Washington announced this week.

A team of six aged 14 to 17 won with a robot that could use solar energy to support small-scale farmers in their fields. The winner was chosen by the thousands of spectators who attended the event.

The group was thrusted into the international spotlight in July when they were denied visas to take part in the First Global Challenge robotics competition in Washington.

However, the US reversed its decision after an international outcry and allowed the group to enter the country through a process that authorizes otherwise ineligible visitors on humanitarian grounds or because it benefits the public.

The team, which had only two weeks to build its robot for the event, won a silver medal for courageous achievement.

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