HomeFormer BBC journalists in Kabul say companies have ignored pleas for help | BBC

Former BBC journalists in Kabul say companies have ignored pleas for help | BBC

A group of senior Afghan journalists who have spent time working for BBC The company and the UK government were accused of ignoring their pleas for help after they were stranded in Kabul.

The group of 14 people, who worked as either presenters, reporters, producers or co-producers for the BBC at Afghanistan, hiding from the Taliban after the BBC and the UK embassy in Kabul rejected their calls for help.

The foundation said it was working to help 171 staff and their families in Afghanistan, but was unable to provide this support to former BBC staff because British and US agencies have limited capacity to help.

Hundreds of journalists with links to British media remain in the country, according to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), which has called on ministers to make good on their promises to help those in need.

The 14 former BBC journalists have asked not to reveal their identities for fear of reprisals. One interviewed prominent Taliban figures for the company while another was a former presenter of a BBC talk show supported by the British Embassy and is still available on YouTube.

Speaking from Kabul, where he is hiding with his wife and five children, the talk show host said: “Unfortunately, the BBC has abandoned us. My family and I are under threat. The BBC has a moral responsibility towards us, we are in danger because we have worked with the BBC.”

Two months ago, he said, he received threatening and abusive calls from Taliban leaders. They accused me of working with the British government and supporting the infidels’ invasion of Afghanistan. They asked why I did not disclose news of the Taliban’s gains. They said they would find me when they got to Kabul.”

The lieutenant colonel, who spent eight months working for the company in London, added: “We urgently need to leave Afghanistan. Last week, a reporter was beaten in front of his camera and accused of publishing things against Islam. Ten days ago they beat up two journalists in the east of the country.”

BBC News director Fran Unsworth emailed a representative of seven of the group on August 19, four days after the Taliban entered Kabul, saying she understood “how concerned you must be for your safety and that of your family and friends.”

She said the company was doing everything it could to help BBC staff but “unfortunately in these difficult circumstances we are not in a position to provide this support to their extended family and former BBC staff. This is because the UK and US agencies we are asking for help have limited capacity” . Unsworth offered to remove links online to the stories the journalist had worked on.

An email sent last week from the Chief of Staff at the UK Embassy in Kabul stated: “We are fully committed to doing what we can to support the Afghan people. I realize these words will seem insignificant at this moment, but I hope they remain safe and our thoughts are.” with you “.

In an open letter to Johnson, the group said: “It appears that they [the BBC] I completely forgot about those who worked with them for a good number of years and ignored their contributions. [We] They live in tremendous fear and are urging the British government as well as the BBC to help in the rescue [our] Live without further delay and before it is too late.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC is working around the clock with governments, the military and expert teams to find options to evacuate colleagues and their immediate families from Afghanistan. So far we have successfully evacuated several hundred staff to the UK and are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of staff and their families. who currently remain in the country while we continue to explore all other options. We have every sympathy for the ex-employees but regret that we are not in a position to offer our direct support to them.”

Michele Stanstreet, Secretary-General of the University of New Jersey, said: “Despite belated promises by the UK government to support Afghan journalists through links with British media, the reality is that hundreds are still stuck…the UK has a moral obligation to deliver on its promises. , including all current and former employees of our public broadcasting service.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been contacted for comment.