Afghan refugees cycle in traditional Mexico City bike ride

Mexico City (AFP) –


Four Afghan refugees, members of the country's robotics team who fled to Mexico after the Taliban's takeover of Kabul last month, participated Sunday in a bike parade in the capital organized to welcome the women.

Joined by dozens of other cyclists, the women rode to the Monument to the Revolution, in the center of Mexico City, for the event dubbed "Mexico embraces you."

In the midst the Covid-19 pandemic, the team, made up of about 20 young women, who won a special award at the 2017 World Robotics Championship, created a new type of respirator made out of old car parts.

"First of all, we want to thank Mexico government for making all these facilities for us," one of the team members, whose name is being withheld for security reasons, told AFP.

The group, made up of five team members and one of their partners, were the first Afghan refugees to arrive in Mexico after the Taliban retook the country from the American-backed government after 20 years last month.

Mexico has since received a total of 391 Afghans -- mostly translators and their families -- who fear a return of the historically repressive policies of the Taliban.

Mexico's deputy foreign minister Martha Delgado, who organized the team's resettlement on a humanitarian basis, accompanied the group on her bicycle, a traditional Sunday afternoon pastime in Mexico City.

"(We want to thank) especially Ms. Vice Minister, who is always helpful for us and making all of these facilities for us, to be here, to have fun, to see around Mexico and to get familiar with everything," the same robotics team member said, as the group posed for pictures with shirts gifted to them.

After a short speech, three of the young women rode toward the iconic Angel of Independence statue, while another rode on a taxi tricycle.

The group then joined the hundreds of other cyclists pedaling along the Paseo de la Reforma, which is closed to vehicle traffic on Sundays to make room for the traditional weekly ride.

The women have received threats from Islamist fundamentalists, according to Mexican authorities.

"Our dreams will not end because of the Taliban," the group's spokesperson said when they arrived in Mexico.