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Press FreedomGermany

German media urge visas for Afghan journalists

August 15, 2021

DW and other major German news outlets have made an urgent appeal to Chancellor Angela Merkel to quickly evacuate Afghan journalists who put their lives at risk to report from the conflict zone.

Afghan journalists take cover behind an ambulance
Afghan journalists take cover near a hotel in Kabul during a fight between gunmen and Afghan security forces in 2018Image: Getty Images/AFP/Shah Marai

German media organizations on Sunday 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 US-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.

Afghan TV journalist stands in front of cameras
Journalists often put their lives in danger during their reporting on the conflict in AfghanistanImage: Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images

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 US 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.