500 Journalists Working For US Agency Left Behind
By Denise Simon
Voice of America is taxpayer-funded. And Radio Free Europe is a United States government-funded organization that broadcasts and reports news, information, and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Caucasus, and the Middle East.
In part from Washington Monthly 5 days ago:
One group that, surprisingly, has hundreds of staffers and their families stranded in the country is the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which runs the pro-democracy Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
On Wednesday, 67 members of Congress sent President Biden a bipartisan letter saying that these staffers are being forgotten. “We stress to you that the 550 USAGM employees and their families are no different from journalists you have already doggedly worked to evacuate,” the letter reads.
I’ve been hearing from fellow journalists who are trying to get their own colleagues out of Afghanistan that there is a much higher number than 550, but, like everything in this shambolic pullout, the truth is obfuscated. A spokesperson for VOA told me that, for security reasons, the broadcasting organization is “unwilling to provide specific details in response to your query, but know that VOA is working with USAGM and other authorities to ensure the safety of all of our personnel in Afghanistan.”
Also on Wednesday, a source told me that a group trying to get VOA staffers and other vulnerable people out of Afghanistan ran into a wall because the evacuees were unable to get into the airport. The group, which consists of humanitarian aid workers and former embassy, and U.S. Agency for International Development officials, has two charter flights that can carry 340 people each. The organization is holding them in Kabul, for now, they said, until Friday.
Were they counted in any of the Biden administration numbers of those still stranded? No one knows.
An update… now it is 100 journalists left behind?
FB: Amid its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Biden administration abandoned more than 100 government-sponsored journalists in the war-torn country.
The State Department promised to evacuate employees of Voice of America and Radio Azadi, which are overseen by the U.S. Agency for Global Media, according to the Washington Post. The government employees, however, were unable to board evacuation flights by the administration’s Aug. 31 deadline, when the last U.S. troops departed from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport. The situation for the journalists, who face reprisals from the Taliban, is now a matter of “life and death,” according to an agency official.
“You would have expected that the United States government, which helped create the space for journalism and civil society in Afghanistan over the last 20 years, would have tried to do more over the last several weeks to assist journalists who made a decision that it was best for them to leave the country,” Jamie Fly, the president of Radio Liberty, which oversees Radio Azadi, told the Post. “But they consistently failed to do that.”
The Biden administration has faced mounting criticism for its withdrawal efforts, which have left between 100 and 200 Americans in the Taliban-controlled country. President Joe Biden said last month that U.S. troops would stay in Afghanistan until every American is evacuated—a broken promise that has angered both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, according to Politico.
“America’s last flight left Afghanistan, even though we still don’t know the total number of Americans trapped behind enemy lines—it’s unforgivable,” Sen. Steve Daines (R., Mont.) told the outlet.
Biden defended his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan in a speech on Tuesday, saying it was “the right decision, a wise decision, and the best decision for America.”