Washington Post publisher calls on Biden to evacuate journalists and families from Afghanistan

There are more than 200 journalists from major publications trapped in Afghanistan as Taliban seizes power

Graig Graziosi
Monday 16 August 2021 23:21
Afghanistan: Crowds scale jet bridge at Kabul airport in desperate bid to escape Taliban
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The publisher of the Washington Post has sent a plea to the Biden administration for help evacuating US journalists and their families from Afghanistan as the Taliban seizes control of the country.

Fred Ryan, the publisher, sent an email on Monday to National Security adviser Jake Sullivan requesting assistance for the reporters and their families.

“Jake, Urgent request on behalf of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post is to have our 204 journalists, support staff and families transported by US Military from the civilian side of the Kabul airport to the military side of the airport where they can be safe as they await evacuation flights,” Mr Ryan wrote, according to NBC News.

Mr Ryan claimed that journalists at the papers are “currently in danger” and “need the US government to get them to safety.”

“For the past twenty years, brave Afghan colleagues have worked tirelessly to help The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal share news and information from the region with the global public. Now, those colleagues and their families are trapped in Kabul, their lives in peril,” Mr Ryan wrote.

He asked that journalists be given protected access to the US-controlled portion of the airport, safe passage through one of the airport’s protected access gates, and air evacuation from the country.

The request is another example of the chaos created by the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban's rush to return to power.

Days ago, US military analysts predicted that the fall of Kabul could occur within 90 days. Analysts did not anticipate that the Taliban would retake the country within days.

The pace at which the Taliban has advanced has left Afghans, US officials and private sector workers - like journalists - scrambling to escape. Harrowing footage of Afghans running alongside a US Air Force plane and clinging to its side has circulated on social media as a visceral illustration of the desperation among Afghans.

Journalists in the country are currently on the civilian side of the airport. Mr Ryan wants to see the reporters moved to the military side of the airport, where the remaining US military forces can protect them until they are evacuated from the country.

The situation at the Kabul airport is growing more desperate as Taliban forces continue to take over the city. On Monday, US forces fired warning shots to keep pleading Afghan citizens away from aircraft as they departed the airport.

According to the Associated Press, at least seven people died during the chaos at the airport.

Joe Biden is facing mounting criticism over the decision to pull US forces out of the country. Mr Biden defended his decision on Saturday.

“I was the fourth president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth,” he said.

While some have advocated a continued US military presence in the country essentially in perpetuity, others criticised the speed and lack of organisation of the withdrawal, noting that plans for housing Afghan refugees - especially those who cooperated with US forces and are likely to become targets for the Taliban - were not cemented ahead of time.

The US is scrambling to find countries to house the refugees. The US has already evacuated 1,200 Afghans, and is planning on taking on another 3,500, but many more will be left behind to fend for themselves against the Taliban.

New Zealand announced its plans to evacuate some refugees, and Reuters reports that the US is trying to reach an agreement with Qatar to take on another 8,000 Afghans.

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