A coalition of the U.S. media companies has requested the U.S. Congress and Administration of President Joe Biden to offer special visas for the Afghan journalists and other staff who have worked with the U.S. media outlets.
In separate letters sent to the Congress and the Biden Administration, the coalition has stated that there is a critical need for a special visa program to allow those Afghans who have worked with the U.S. media to find safety in the United States with their families.
“Much attention has been given in recent weeks to the plight of Afghans who worked for the U.S. Government and the expansion of the Special Immigration Visa to assist them in seeking relocation and safety in the United States. The SIV program properly recognizes both their service and this country’s commitment to provide safe harbor to people who advanced America’s interest in Afghanistan. The SIV program does not reach those Afghans who have served U.S. news organizations. Yet they and their families face the same threat of retaliation from the Taliban, which views the American press a legitimate target. The Taliban has long conducted a campaign of threatening and killing journalists,” the letter reads.
Pointing towards a similar program which was approved for Iraq in 2008, the coalition further stated that the need for action is urgent.
“Designing and implementing a program and then processing applications will inevitably take time. Meanwhile, the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 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,” the coalition said in its later, adding that 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 work knew what was going on in their country while U.S. troops were there for the past twenty years.
Meanwhile, the coalition said that they do not have a reliable count at this time of the number of our Afghan colleagues who are in danger.
However, they said “But the number is undoubtedly modest – we estimate fewer than 1,000 people – because of small number of news organizations that have operated in Afghanistan and the relatively small size of our operations.”
This comes as efforts are underway to directly relocate 2,500 Afghans directly to the United States who have previously worked with the U.S. government.
The U.S. officials have confirmed that around 10,000 other Afghans who have worked for the US government will be evacuated to third countries or military bases overseas where their visa and paperwork will be reviewed.