Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Azadi journalists are still trapped in Afghanistan as the August 31 withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country draws closer.
“Many Afghan journalists remain unable to get into the airport — including most of the staff of the U.S.-government operated Voice of America and Radio Azadi,” the New York Times reported on Wednesday, quoting an unnamed U.S. official.
The Times previously reported on August 15 that more than 100 journalists who work for U.S. state-funded broadcasters, including VOA and Radio Azadi, were stuck in Afghanistan.
VOA reported on Tuesday that Taliban fighters have been searching the homes of some media workers, though the publication did not specify if their own journalists are included. VOA’s Bureau Chief for Afghanistan & Pakistan, Ayesha Tanzeem, has been documenting her treacherous journey at the Kabul airport on Twitter.
— Ayesha Tanzeem (@atanzeem) August 25, 2021
During an August 17 interview on National Public Radio (NPR), Tanzeem said she was worried for her Afghan colleagues.
“It’s a different Afghanistan from a week ago. And nobody knows whether a week from now, we’ll say, oh, it turned out OK, it’s not as bad, or we would say, oh, my God. Nobody knows. Your guess is just as good as mine,” she said.
Mexican officials helped the New York Times’ own Afghan journalists leave Kabul, with 24 families touching down in Mexico City on Wednesday. British troops reportedly helped a Washington Post reporter and her Afghan colleagues escape as well. Several other media companies have reportedly collectively evacuated hundreds journalists, including Afghan freelancers and interpreters.
After Central Intelligence negotiated with Taliban terrorists on Monday, Biden decided to stick to the August 31 deadline for pulling American troops out of Afghanistan. Against the wishes of other world leaders, the Biden Administration caved to Taliban threats and is poised to potentially leave thousands of Americans and Afghan allies stranded in the country. On Monday, House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said it is “very unlikely” everyone will be evacuated by August 31 due to overwhelming numbers.
A leaked State Department cable reported by Politico on Tuesday said 26,582 people total have been flown out of Afghanistan, including 21,533 Afghans as of August 23.
The Pentagon reported on Wednesday that only 4,400 Americans citizens have been extracted. A Senate aid revealed Wednesday that 4,100 Americans remain stranded in Afghanistan, though many are “not in or around Kabul,” CNN reported.