Mexico hosts more than 100 Afghan journalists fleeing Taliban

By Karol Suarez and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

Over 100 Afghan journalists and their families arrived in Mexico on Wednesday after requesting humanitarian protection, according to a statement from the Mexican Foreign Ministry.

The group of 124 people believed to have been in danger in Afghanistan consisted of media workers and their families, including children, the statement said. They arrived at Mexico City International Airport early Wednesday.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the decision to offer protection to journalists was “congruent with Mexico’s historic position.”

“These are those who risk their lives to inform and communicate; who are committed to freedom of expression, ”he said, adding that the group included journalists and local staff from“ many media outlets who have requested humanitarian visas in Mexico due to the latest events ”.

The Foreign Ministry added in the statement that travel and living expenses during their stay in Mexico will be covered by private sponsors and civil society organizations.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has warned that Afghan journalists face extreme dangers amid the Taliban takeover.

At least three Afghan women journalists have been murdered this year, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), while one was shot dead by an armed man in December 2020.

The New York Times said on Wednesday that a group of Afghans who worked for the newspaper, along with their families, were among the group.

According to a statement released by the Mexican Foreign Ministry, the director of International News for the New York Times, Michael Slackman, thanked Mexico for its support and “the rapid dispatch by the Mexican government of safe means of transport for the journalists”.

In the statement, Slackman also urged “the entire international community to follow suit and continue to work on behalf of the brave Afghan journalists who remain at risk.”

RSF said the Taliban was already placing severe constraints on the media, even as it made promises to protect press freedom.

“Officially, the new Afghan authorities have not issued any regulations, but the media and reporters are treated arbitrarily,” RSF secretary general Christophe Deloire said in a statement.

The group said at least ten journalists were victims of violence or threats while working on the streets of Kabul and Jalalabad last week.

Many Western media present in Afghanistan have evacuated their foreign correspondents and local staff in recent weeks, following the Taliban takeover.

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