Online only; updated 20/08/21 and 24/08/21

Alarming Afghan ‘bounty’ demand reported

Rescue required for Afghan journalists

AS THE UK Parliament almost with one voice condemns some governments' handling of the military withdrawal from Afghanistan, civil society is focusing on who and what can be rescued from the dire situation.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) reports that "Evacuations are likely to become more complicated. According to journalists closely following the situation, the Taliban are now negotiating bounties [payments] for every Afghan who cooperated with the West with the respective NATO countries to be evacuated." According to these reports, "no one will be allowed to enter Kabul airport before the price is fixed (including a political price). The official Taliban argument for the action is 'to avoid brain drain from the country'. Operations are therefore likely to take time."

In the meantime, the IFJ, EFJ and their affiliates continue to call on governments to grant humanitarian visas and evacuate Afghan colleagues. Several European governments have indicated that they will provide assistance only to Afghan media workers who have been working with the media from their country. This is the case, for example, in the Netherlands. Other states are more open and are ready to support any Afghan media worker: Poland is one of these.

The IFJ is "not comfortable with this concept of aid being conditional. It believes that all Afghan media workers deserve our support because they have all contributed to informing world public opinion. But "many European governments are petrified by the idea of a new 'refugee wave'." The IFJ is working with its member unions on safely compiling a list of Afghan media workers - including journalists, fixers, interpreters and technicians - who have collaborated with media based in each union's country.

Earlier, the IFJ urged all who can to make a donation to a special Afghanistan Solidarity Fund within the IFJ Safety Fund. All funds raised will go directly to providing support to Afghan colleagues.

20 August 2021

The NUJ says: "PM @BorisJohnson needs to step in, 13 days since @DominicRaab committed to a safe passage out of #Afghanistan for media workers".

The union has initiated talks with both the UK's Foreign Office and the BBC to push for swift exit solutions for all staff based in the BBC’s Kabul office and those working across Afghanistan. "Despite Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab responding positively" on 6 August to an NUJ call to provide emergency visas, writes Tim Dawson, "the government has been slow to implement this scheme and to make good on its commitment."

The UK's Trades Union Congress (TUC) has publicised a further statement by NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet: "Urgent government support must be put in place to secure access to the airport and onto military planes back to the UK. That means visas need to be approved swiftly, we have already seen too many days of inaction."

24 August 2021

Civil society group calls on G7 leaders to support Afghan media workers

As G7 leaders convene today, 24 August, to discuss evacuation efforts in Afghanistan over 50 civil society organisations, including the IFJ, have called on G7 countries to commit and take immediate action to support Afghan media workers to ensure their protection and evacuation.