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JOURNALISTS have criticised the British government’s “frustratingly” slow progress in securing safe passage for under-threat ex-BBC staff in Afghanistan.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) issued fresh calls for action from ministers today to help reporters with close links to Britain, warning that lives will be lost if they fail to do so.
Former BBC journalists in the country have been forced to go into hiding amid “serious” and “credible” threats from the Taliban against them, the unions said.
Although seven weeks have passed since the Islamist fundamentalist group seized control of Afghanistan, there “remains a concerning lack of clarity and frustratingly slow progress on providing them assistance,” the NUJ and IFJ said.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “There are reports of Taliban commanders calling for BBC journalists to be punished, targeted and attacked as enemies of Afghanistan.
“The UK government and the BBC have a particular duty of care to these journalists, and more must urgently be done to speed up the resettlement process and secure their safe passage to the UK. We need engaged and speedy action before lives are lost.”
IFJ general secretary Anthony Bellanger said that the evacuation and resettlement of journalists with a clear connection to Britain must be a priority for the government.
A group of 14 senior journalists who formerly worked for the BBC in Afghanistan wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month to accuse the British government and the corporation of abandoning them.
The BBC has previously said that it has helped more than 100 current staff and their families escape the country, but does not have the capacity to support former workers.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was approached for comment.
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