Afghanistan

'Emergency' visas for Afghan journalists: German media

Published : August 16, 2021 19:30 IST

The media outlets said journalists, stringers, translators and fixers played a major role in their reporting from Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that followed the 9/11 attacks. Photo: AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

Major German news outlets have made an urgent appeal for Afghan journalists to be evacuated.

German media organizations on August 15 issued an urgent appeal to the German government to offer refuge to local Afghan staff who worked for them in Afghanistan.

In an open letter, major newspapers, public and commercial broadcasters including Deutsche Welle (DW) and the dpa news agency called for an emergency visa program to allow their employees to emigrate to Germany. The appeal came as the Taliban entered the Afghan capital, Kabul, effectively taking control of the country for the first time in almost 20 years.

Media workers played pivotal role

The media outlets said journalists, stringers, translators and fixers played a major role in their reporting from Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that followed the 9/11 attacks. "They too have shared our belief in the free press as an indispensable element of a stable, peaceful, balanced democracy — a value that the German government strongly supported in Afghanistan over the past 20 years," read the letter.

The outlets stressed that reporting from inside the war-torn county would have been "unthinkable without the efforts and bravery of the Afghan staff who supported us on the ground."

Lives in 'acute danger'

The signatories warned that "the lives of these freelance staff are now in acute danger.'' Citing several recent deadly attacks on journalists, the letter said that due to the advance of the Taliban "it must be feared that such murders will now dramatically increase — and many of our staff are at risk.''

In particular, the Taliban were widely expected to single out journalists for acts of revenge , the media outlets said. "Employees who want to leave the country face persecution, arrest, torture and death. We, therefore, ask you to act quickly."

Meanwhile, Germany, the U.S. and several other countries have promised to resettle military translators and other helpers of the NATO mission in Afghanistan. However, the gesture has been criticized as too little and too late.

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