| Faculty of Economics, Law and Social Sciences, Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, International

"They definitely have to fear for their lives"

Professor Heike Grimm from the University of Erfurt spoke about the extremely worrying situation of Afghan alumni of the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy and how education can continue to be the key to a different Afghanistan in an interview with the radio station MDR Kultur this week. "We are seriously worried because the situation is becoming more dramatic and the calls for help are also becoming more dramatic. The people who are contacting us are in panic. They are scared to death."

Professor Heike Grimm

The background to the discussion was a statement by the Brandt School on the current situation in Afghanistan dated 17 August 2021, in which it said it was trying to work together with the German Academic Exchange Service via the Federal Foreign Office to offer Afghan alumni of the Brandt School support in escaping their country. They fear for their lives in their home country because of their academic education in Germany - funded by the German government with the goal of building a democratic and peaceful Afghanistan - and the career paths they have taken in politics and administration, explained Professor Grimm.

Education is a central element in the development of Afghanistan - but more should have been invested in order to reach a critical mass of educated elite and graduates. Moreover, in the mid-2010s, due to the large number of international flashpoints, the interest of donors continued to decline, which is why concepts for online education for a larger number of Afghans were rejected. These concepts could now play an important role for the future of the country. This is where the second demand of the statement of 17 August on "Policy Experts at Risk" (PExaR) comes in, namely that Afghan top performers from the political sphere who are now at risk should be temporarily admitted to universities in other countries.

It is important to offer the well-educated elites who are now trying to leave the country a perspective for the moment, so that their education is not in vain. The educational successes achieved so far must be built upon. Then, in a few years, the situation in Afghanistan could possibly change again - among others through this local elite.

If you are looking for information on the evacuations from Afghanistan or need help yourself, but are not an alumnus/alumna of the University of Erfurt, we ask you to inform yourself directly via the pages of the Federal Foreign Office (see link) or to call their crisis hotline 0049 (0)30-1817-1000 or 00 49 (0)30-5000-1000.

Information from the Federal Foreign Office