British news organisations, including Sky News, are urging the government to give refuge to Afghans who have worked for them as concerns mount for their lives, welfare and freedom.
The Taliban‘s recent advances and track record of carrying out targeted killings of reporters has made the issue a priority for the news channels and newspapers Afghan journalists have worked for.
In a letter to Boris Johnson, the news organisations highlight the “loyalty and commitment of the Afghan journalists, translators and support staff who have worked with us throughout this period”.
The letter, signed by Sky, ITN, The Guardian, The Times, The Sun and Financial Times amongst others, says: “There is an urgent need to act quickly, as the threat to their lives is already acute and worsening.”
It calls on the British government to create a special visa programme for Afghan staff who have worked for the British media, to allow them to leave the country and find safety in the United Kingdom.
It notes that the UK has already created a visa programme for translators who have worked for the armed forces and provisions made for Afghans by the US government who have worked with American journalists.
The letter highlights the role a small number of committed and brave Afghans have played in coverage of the country in past years.
It continues: “The Afghans who worked for UK media outlets have also been critical to our national understanding of what British men and women fought for Afghanistan and the conduct of our allies in the Afghan government.
“The numbers concerned are small, perhaps a few dozen people including family members, yet their work in illuminating the realities of Afghanistan to the British public has carried an exponential impact.”
The issue is of increasing urgency given the swift advances made by Taliban forces in the wake of the withdrawal of allied forces from the country.
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The Taliban has made swifter progress gaining ground, seizing border posts and threatening to seize key provincial capitals.
Attacks attributed to the Taliban on Tuesday reached the heart of the Afghan capital, Kabul, targeting the supposedly secure green zone where government officials live.
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