The U.S. State Department says they are looking for four Afghan women who were part of a delegation visiting the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
The center for politics hosted 22 Afghan women to provide an educational component to their trip. They sponsored the guests in partnership with the U.S. State Department and Relief International as part of the Global Perspectives on Democracy Program. UVA Center for Politics released a statement Monday saying it was "neither contracted nor expected to monitor participants' activities outside the educational programming."
A representative from the state department says two women left the program last weekend and another two left on Wednesday without any indication of where they went.
The state department's diplomatic security team is currently working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to confirm the whereabouts of the four women. They have not confirmed any names of the women who went missing, and no official pictures have been released.
During their three-week stay in Charlottesville, they were living at the Cavalier Inn. The remaining 18 women in the group went back to Afghanistan on Wednesday.
University of Virginia Center for Politics Press Release
The University of Virginia Center for Politics was honored to be selected by the U.S. Department of State and Relief International to administer a series of educational programs for a visiting delegation from Afghanistan. Members of the visiting delegation were recruited and selected by Relief International in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State.
The Center for Politics' Global Perspectives on Democracy is a university-based program designed to provide instruction and other educational experiences for citizens of democracies around the world.
This is the second year and the third delegation from Afghanistan in which the Center for Politics was selected to serve in this role for this particular State Department program. Over the years, the Center for Politics has also provided similar educational programming for visiting international delegations from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Argentina and Chile, among others.
As with every international group that elects to participate in the Center for Politics' Global Perspectives program, we establish a programming agenda for each "program" day the international participants are in Charlottesville, with specific start times and end times for the Center's programming.
Times outside of the Center's educational programming agenda, including but not limited to overnight and evening activities, worship time and "free" days, etc., are the responsibility of the host organization and are not administered by the Center for Politics. The Center for Politics was neither contracted nor expected to monitor participants' activities outside the educational programming.
The Center for Politics was informed by Relief International at the start of each program day on the number of visitors who were present and were expected to participate that day and/or any other issues such as sickness that could potentially impact the ability of participants to complete each day's agenda. Center staffers were also informed if/when a program participant was not present in their rooms during the morning head count.
The host organizations, in this case Relief International and the U.S. Department of State, were responsible for informing authorities if/when they suspected that a participant had decided to separate from the program.
We regret that four participants did not complete the educational portion of the program. The State Department made arrangements to return the delegation to Afghanistan, and participants departed Charlottesville, Va., on Wednesday, June 6.
We will continue to offer assistance to the State Department and other authorities in locating the four participants as requested.
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