UK and German media call on their governments to do more to help local Afghan journalists

Reports of the Taliban detaining journalists, while others have gone into hiding

The UK’s National Union for Journalists has urged the British government to include specific measures for Afghan journalists and media workers under its proposed resettlement schemes.

“Urgent government support must be put in place to secure access to [Kabul] airport and on to military planes back to the UK," said NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet.

“That means visas need to be approved swiftly, we have already seen too many days of inaction. The UK government must provide visas for journalists and media workers in Afghanistan who have links to the UK media.”

While the British government announced on Wednesday that it would resettle 5,000 Afghans a year for four years under a new programme, there are no specific plans for media personnel.

However, the government has said it will work to “identify those most at risk".

The NUJ said that since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan earlier this week more than 140 media outlets had been forcibly shut down or taken over by the militant group, resulting in more than 1,000 job losses.

House-to-house searches in Kabul have resulted in the detainment of three journalists, with many others having gone into hiding, it has been reported.

Germany’s state-owned international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, has also been urging its government to aid in the evacuation of its journalist out of Afghanistan.

A joint statement from the head of Deutsche Welle's broadcasting council, Karl Justen, and the head of its administrative council, Peter Clever, noted the danger facing its staff on the ground.

“With the Taliban takeover, the lives of Deutsche Welle employees and their families in Afghanistan are under acute threat,” it said.

“The fact that they worked for a western broadcaster could result in torture and death.”

Mr Justen added that Deutsche Welle's Afghan correspondents had been reporting in their local languages for years and are known by name.

“We know that the Taliban have already searched the homes of three of our employees looking for them,” the news outlets reported Mr Justen as saying.

Deutsche Welle said it had been in close contact with the German Foreign Ministry for several days to try to facilitate the evacuation of the broadcaster's employees and their families.

Other major German broadcasters and newspapers have also called for the German government to establish an emergency visa programme for Afghan employees.

The German government was criticised for having only seven people on board its first evacuation mission on Monday. Dozens more have arrived in Germany from Afghanistan since then and the government said it would deploy 600 soldiers to support the on-going efforts.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany was working with the US and other countries to ensure local Afghan staff could get to the airport.

“For them, the situation is much more dangerous, because there is no promise of being let through at the Taliban checkpoints,” he said.

A politician from Angela Merkel’s CDU party said many of the Afghan personnel Germany had worked with during its 20 years on the ground were in the northern part of the country, far from Kabul.

“Those who have not had the chance to go to Kabul and are still in the north, we have no idea how to evacuate them and probably we can’t do that,” said Roderich Kiesewetter.

Updated: August 18th 2021, 4:51 PM
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