The runway at Bagram U.S. air base, after American troops vacated it, in Parwan province, Afghanistan as seen on July 5, 2021. (Reuters/Mohammad Ismail)

CPJ, U.S. media organizations urge U.S. to provide visas to Afghans who worked with press

The Committee to Protect Journalists joined a coalition of U.S. news and press freedom organizations in joint letters to President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Congressional leadership asking the U.S. government to provide humanitarian assistance and emergency visas to Afghans who have worked with U.S. media outlets. 

In 2020, at least five journalists were killed in Afghanistan in relation to their work, tied for the most worldwide, according to CPJ research. Amid the ongoing U.S. military pullout, CPJ has been working closely with partners to provide emergency support to at-risk local and international journalists in Afghanistan and advocating for political action with government leaders.

“The need for action is urgent,” the letters state. “Designing and implementing a program and then processing applications will inevitably take time. Meanwhile, the withdrawal of U.S. forces is moving forward rapidly. We are doing what we can as private organizations to assist our former and current Afghan colleagues but our capacity to provide relief is limited. Without the assistance of the U.S. Government, many of these Afghans face grievous harm and death for having done nothing more than lent their labor and skills to making certain the world knew what was going on in their country while U.S. troops were there for the past twenty years.”

In addition to administration officials, the letter was sent to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. 

In April, CPJ endorsed a bill introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine and Sen. Lindsey Graham that would create an emergency visa for endangered journalists around the world. 

The letters can be found here and here