UK government must offer urgent sanctuary to journalists fleeing Afghanistan
The NUJ is calling on the UK government to put in place specific measures for journalists and media workers under its anticipated resettlement scheme and step up its effort to deliver their safe passage out of Afghanistan.
As the Taliban have taken control of towns and cities across the country, there has been a consequential and rapid escalation of violence and threats against journalists and independent media, with reports of threats being issued and house to house searches in Kabul yesterday that resulted in three journalists being detained. Many journalists have gone into hiding and women journalists have been prevented from reporting.
More than 140 media outlets have been forcibly shut down or taken over by the Taliban and as a result to date over 1,000 journalists and media workers have lost their jobs.
Earlier this month UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab MP, promised a new scheme to facilitate support and assistance for Afghan media workers but scant information has been made available.
The NUJ has been liaising closely with the BBC over its team based in Kabul. There have been talks during the last four months about the likely movement of editorial work from Kabul to Delhi – but only for around 26 staff, with the remainder being offered a financial settlement.
The NUJ is now demanding all BBC Afghan staff and their families are urgently brought to safety in the UK.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"Government action to date has been insufficient, vague and lacking in urgency. This is needlessly contributing to the distress and fear of journalists and their families. 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.
"The UK government must also provide visas for journalists and media workers in Afghanistan who have links to the UK media. Given its key role on the Media Freedom Coalition, we call on the government to lead the international work going forward to defend and monitor media freedom in Afghanistan and support those journalists who will remain."
Alongside the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) the NUJ continues to offer practical support, solidarity and assistance to Afghan journalists and is liaising with our two sister unions in country.
The NUJ is encouraging people to donate to the IFJ urgent appeal to help Afghan journalists. Donate online to the Safety Fund for Afghan colleagues here -