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A third-year medical student in Kabul when the Afghan capital was taken over by the Taliban, Fatemeh Abdali quickly had to flee to France. Exiled to Paris, she recalls how her hopes were dashed on August 15, 2021 and explains her ultimate goal: to one day return to her country freed from the Taliban with her French skills and her diploma in hand.
At 23, Fatemeh Abdali is starting from scratch in Paris. She takes French lessons offered by the French Office for Immigration and Integration (Ofii) to get up to speed and be able to continue her studies.
In Kabul, she was in her third year of medicine. But her journey was suddenly interrupted on August 15, 2021. Previously, under the Taliban, women were always banned from universities. “I think that any country, and in particular Afghanistan, needs good doctors and especially female doctors to help others, women but also girls,” explains Fatemeh Abdali.
She often thinks back to that day when everything changed. “I could not imagine that the Taliban were going to occupy Kabul.” On August 15 in the morning, she goes to her campus for an exam. “The whole university was silent. One of my teachers said to me: ‘Fatemeh, you have to go home because the Taliban have taken Kabul’. I just started crying. How is this possible? It was the end of my dream.”
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Thanks to her big sister – who already lived in France – Fatemeh Abdali managed to be evacuated in eight days on a French plane via Abu Dhabi. In Paris, she feels uprooted and quickly understands the obstacle course that awaits her. “Now that I live in France, it is very important that I speak (the language) to be a doctor and to communicate”, testifies the student.
Like Fatemeh Abdali, dozens of Afghan students have gone into exile in France.
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