Following the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in August 2021, things have drastically changed for the worst for Afghan Journalists and media workers.
Fleeing the Taliban rule, many journalists migrated to the neighboring countries namely Iran and Pakistan in search of safety and peaceful life for their families. However, things did not go as expected.
The many issues these journalists are currently faced with include unemployment, visa extension, legal status issues and more. Many who arrived on short-term visas in the host countries now face serious problems including deportation and imprisonment.
Besides hosting thousands of Afghan refugees over the past four decades, the government of Pakistan in November announced that Afghan citizens without legal documentation will face serious consequences beyond December 2022. The punishment includes imprisonment for up to three years and blacklisting to avoid future travels to Pakistan.
Meanwhile, in Iran, Afghan journalists are facing similar problems as the Islamic Regime keeps deporting Afghan refugees in a regular manner. As refugees, neither they have the affordability to extend their stay visas nor they can return to Afghanistan.
Many Afghan journalists stranded in Pakistan and Iran say the Western countries have abandoned them as they have not heard back from their visa applications over the past year.
“We don’t know what is going to happen to us,” a journalist in Iran said, explaining that the family’s visas expired three months ago. They have applied for refuge in France but have not heard if they will be successful.
“Every minute, it is possible that (Iran will) deport us to Afghanistan. Now, we can’t pay the fine for overstaying. It is 2,000,000 rial ($50) per person per day, and I do not have the money,” he said.
Considering the dire economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, and the tough restrictions the Taliban authorities have imposed on media outlets baring citizens to criticize the ruling regime, returning to Afghanistan is not an option, for journalists in particular.