RSF initiates support program for exiled Afghan journalists in Pakistan

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), in partnership with Freedom Network in Pakistan, has launched the “Advocacy Hub for Afghan Journalists” initiative, aimed at supporting Afghan journalists exiled in Pakistan, according to an RSF press release.

The project focuses on journalists who fled Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover of power in 2021. These journalists were forced to abruptly end their careers and now face challenging daily conditions, RSF said.

Iqbal Khattak, Executive Director of Freedom Network and RSF’s representative in Pakistan, emphasized the importance of this initiative. “Supporting these journalists and finding lasting solutions to give them new prospects, especially professionally, is essential. We are grateful for the resources and technical support from RSF and the EU-funded ProtectDefenders program,” said Khattak.

Launched on Dec. 6 in Islamabad, the “Advocacy Hub for Afghan Journalists” will benefit nearly 100 Afghan journalists in exile over several months. The initiative, led by Khattak, is supported by RSF through the ProtectDefenders program, funded by the European Union.

The program includes lobbying Pakistani policymakers for the safety of exiled journalists, capacity-building workshops for Pakistani media, and legal assistance.

About 60 Afghan journalists in exile attended the project’s launch at the National Press Club in Islamabad, along with an RSF team. Representatives from professional organizations like the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ), and the Women Journalists Association of Pakistan (WJAP) also participated.

Freshta Azizi, a former journalist with Afghanistan’s national broadcaster RTA, shared the exiled journalists’ experiences. “We live in a climate of tension and anxiety,” Azizi said. “We need help to live without this anxiety, which negatively impacts our health.” Journalists discussed administrative and financial challenges, including slow registration processes with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

A big number of Afghan journalists migrated to Pakistan after the fall of the previous government to the Taliban, facing an uncertain future in the neighboring country.