Helping scientists in Afghanistan

Events in Afghanistan are prompting fears of dramatic consequences, including for scientists in the country. There are ways to help them.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has generated a great deal of uncertainty and worry for many groups in the population, including the local scientific community. The SNSF shares these concerns and wishes to point out that the solidarity network Scholars at Risk (SAR) is a means of coming to the aid of researchers at serious risk in their own country.

SAR is an international network of almost 500 universities which advocates the principles of academic freedom. The scholars can apply for temporary placements in countries where they and their families are safe. The stays will allow them to pursue their own academic work, or become involved in research at the host institution.

The SNSF finances SAR’s activities in Switzerland within the scope of its Scientific Exchanges funding scheme. If a Swiss institution is deemed to be a suitable host and agrees to provide sanctuary to a researcher, it can apply for financial support from the SNSF.

The SNSF is also calling for an international effort to defend the safety and freedoms of Afghan researchers. The science system should be free, diverse and internationally open; this is threatened whenever scientists find their own and their families' wellbeing at risk.