Letter to the Editor
Urgent Support to help Afghan Journalists
As the Taliban have taken control of towns and cities across Afghanistan, there has been a consequential rapid escalation of violence and threats against journalists and independent media. Media outlets have been forcibly closed down or taken over by the Taliban to broadcast their own propaganda. Staff have fled or are in hiding. Women journalists are being banned from working and are fearful for their lives. Many remaining media outlets have curtailed their reporting due to security concerns – as a result to date over 1,000 journalists and media workers have lost their jobs.
Alongside the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) the NUJ has been working hard in recent weeks and days to support colleagues based in Afghanistan, liaising with Afghan affiliates AIJA and ANJU to provide emergency support, to help journalists take protective measures, seek safety and where necessary to leave the country.
The NUJ has been lobbying the UK government to provide emergency visas to enable those most at threat to leave. Along with a broad coalition of industry stakeholders, the NUJ had called for urgent action earlier this month to bring Afghan journalists who worked for UK media outlets to the UK. Despite Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab responding positively to this call on 6th August, the UK government has been slow to implement this scheme and to make good on its commitment. As a result many journalists and media workers with clear and close links to the UK remain in Afghanistan, desperate to have clarity over the support available to them and fearful about what their future holds.
The NUJ continues to liaise with the BBC and the Foreign Office to push for swift exit solutions for all staff based in the BBC’s Kabul office and those working across Afghanistan, bringing them and their families to safety in the UK or other international BBC newsrooms.
We are also pressing the UK government to properly discharge its duties to those journalists who will remain in Afghanistan and will be operating in the most challenging of environments. Their trade unions require urgent support in order to provide essential safety measures and protection for their members.
It is vital that we do all we can as a union to offer practical solidarity and support to our Afghan colleagues.
To that end the IFJ has established a special appeal within its IFJ Safety Fund and the NUJ is asking all members to make a donation today at: https://www.ifj.org/safety-fund.html
All funds raised will go directly to provide urgent much-needed support to our Afghan colleagues. Please do all you can to help raise awareness and funds for this important campaign.
Michelle Stanistreet Pierre Vicary
NUJ General Secretary NUJ President