Canadian organizations that employ or represent media workers have been working feverishly since Kabul fell to the Taliban to help Afghan journalists and their families escape to a safe country.
CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon, calling the situation chaotic and dangerous, said on Friday that he had received an email that morning from an Afghan journalist whose house had been ransacked; she is now in hiding, scared for her life.
“Journalists who have been critical of the Taliban face retaliation, which could well mean death.”
O’Hanlon said he has been working with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) “to help push for visas and safe passage to Canada for some colleagues and so far one of them has made it out. Hundreds remain.
“I was on a call with Canadian officials this afternoon and they say they’re doing all they can, but it’s tough to get planes in and tougher to get people to the airport.”
The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), along with CWA Canada and multiple news organizations, issued a joint statement Friday, strongly urging the federal government to help “Afghan journalists and support staff who made our work possible” by arranging for safe passage for them and their families out of the country.
“The return to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan has placed many residents of that country in grave danger. Among them are dozens of courageous Afghans who worked tirelessly to help Canadian journalists cover this tragic story over two decades. Their bravery and commitment must not be forgotten. They provided an essential service to Canadians and risked their lives in support of press freedom.”
The CAJ and CJFE said that Canadian news organizations are “providing the information necessary to ensure the safety of Afghans who provided crucial support as journalists, drivers, translators and other service providers. Multiple journalists who reported from Afghanistan have also been in contact with our group and have supplied additional information in order to (make them) eligible for evacuation and resettlement.”
O’Hanlon suggested that those wanting to help should consider donating to the IFJ Safety Fund to help Afghan media workers get to Canada and other safe countries. He said that CWA Canada had done so and would “provide more money and support for our Afghan colleagues.”