Map Afghanistan
Photo: Erika Wittlieb, Pixabay

Researchers from Afghanistan receive academic sanctuaries in Sweden


The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency – Sida, has decided to fund a national support program for researchers from Afghanistan. The initiative comes from Scholars at Risk - Sweden, which is coordinated from the University of Gothenburg.

“Swedish higher education institutions need to act in solidarity for the protection of Afghan researchers. We must ensure that the research community is preserved and continues to develop for a future, democratic Afghanistan”, says Vice-Chancellor Eva Wiberg.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 was devastating for the country's universities, with targeted, violent attacks on both students and staff. The international network Scholars at Risk (SAR) has since received applications for support from over 1,500 researchers from the country and has issued an appeal to its members to welcome researchers from Afghanistan to their universities.

“Academics who work in subject areas that are not accepted by the Taliban fear for their lives, and entire research disciplines are in danger due to lack of national funding and difficulties in operating in the country”, says Karolina Catoni, contact person for SAR-Sweden, at the University of Gothenburg.

At the initiative of SAR-Sweden, Sida has decided to finance a support program during the years 2022-2024. It will provide around ten at-risk researchers from Afghanistan with temporary academic sanctuaries at one of the 22 Swedish universities that are members of Scholars at Risk.

“With Sida's funding, the Swedish higher education sector will have good opportunities to host scholars from Afghanistan. So far, about fifteen Swedish universities have announced their interest”, says Karolina Catoni.

Hosting researchers at risk in most cases means that the scholar is offered a temporary position as a visiting researcher. The support program makes it possible for Swedish universities to apply for 70 percent of the costs of hosting a researcher from Afghanistan from SAR-Sweden. The University of Gothenburg is the grant manager of the total of 17 million SEK that falls within the support program.

Scholars at Risk

Scholars at Risk is an international network that works for academic freedom and provides protection to at-risk researchers. Since 2015, the University of Gothenburg has regularly hosted at-risk researchers from SAR.

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Contact Karolina Catoni, SAR-Sweden, , phone +46 31 786 26 79, +46 766 18 26 79