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40% of Afghan media have closed, 80% of women journalists lost their jobs



(Last Updated On: December 22, 2021)

A survey by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) has found a radical change in the Afghan media landscape since the takeover by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA).

According to a report on the RSF website, a total of 231 media outlets have closed and more than 6,400 journalists have lost their jobs since 15 August.

Women journalists have been hit hardest, with four out of five no longer working, the report stated.

More than four out of every ten media outlets have disappeared and 60% of journalists and media employees are no longer able to work.

According to the RSF report, of the 543 media outlets tallied in Afghanistan at the start of the summer, only 312 were still operating at the end of November.

This means that 43% of Afghan media outlets disappeared in the space of three months.

The central Kabul region, which had more media than anywhere else, has not been spared. It has lost more than one of every two media outlets (51%). Of the 148 tallied prior to 15 August, only 72 are still operating.

RSF reported that the closure or reduction in the activities of media outlets has had a major impact on employment in the media sector. Of the 10,790 people working in the Afghan media (8,290 men and 2,490 women) at the start of August, only 4,360 (3,950 men and 410 women) – or four out of every ten media workers – were still working when this survey was carried out.

RSF attributed this change in part to new regulations issued by the IEA.

The rules require journalists to tell information and culture ministry officials what they would like to cover, get their permission to go ahead and finally inform them about the results of their reporting in order to be able to publish.

“There is an urgent need to rein in the spiral leading inevitably to the disappearance of Afghan media and to ensure that respect for press freedom is a priority,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran-Afghanistan desk.

“Journalists’ safety, the fate of women journalists, media legislation and the right of access to news and information are all crucial issues that the authorities must address without delay. Without a free press capable of exposing bad governance’s failings, no one will be able to claim that they are combatting famine, poverty, corruption, drug trafficking and the other scourges that afflict Afghanistan and prevent a lasting peace.”

IEA spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told RSF that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan supports “freedom for the media in the defined framework for preserving the country’s higher interests, with respect for the Sharia and Islam.” He also said that the government wanted to “help those media that are operating to continue to do so, and help the others to find solutions so that they can resume operating.”

Aside from new rules, media owners have to cope with new economic constraints. Many media outlets were receiving national and international funding that ended when the IEA seized control.

“These subsidies, which came above all from countries that had a military presence in Afghanistan and which had an interest in providing them, have now ended,” said Mujahid.

Recognizing the disappearance of many media outlets, Mujahid noted that many media “executives and managers had fled the country.”

This had contributed to the “collapse” of their media outlets, he said.

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IEA urges UN to remove sanctions against its members



(Last Updated On: March 27, 2023)

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) officials have once again called on the United Nations to remove the names of IEA members who are on the UN blacklist, and said the international community should engage with the group instead of putting pressure on it.

The UN Security Council failed to reach an agreement to extend travel exemptions, allowing 13 Islamic Emirate officials to travel abroad, which expired in August 2021.

“Some 20 to 25 Islamic Emirate officials are on the UN blacklist and have been sanctioned. Some of them have died, and a few are working with the caretaker government,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, the IEA’s spokesman.

According to Mujahid, adding pressure and force will not bear results. The war of the past 20 years has proven that the people of Afghanistan will not surrender to pressure. Instead, engagement and negotiations are ideal options to reach a comprehensive conclusion, he added.

In addition, inclusion of the Islamic Emirate officials on the UN blacklist violates the Doha Agreement, Mujahid said.

The Doha Agreement is a peace deal between the US and the IEA aimed at restoring peace in Afghanistan. The agreement was signed in Doha in 2020, finalizing the US withdrawal from Afghanistan contingent on IEA security assurance that Afghan soil will not be used against the US by al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

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Japan contributes $21 million for life-saving vaccines in Afghanistan



(Last Updated On: March 27, 2023)

The Embassy of Japan in Afghanistan on Monday announced that Japan has contributed $21 million for life-saving vaccines for mothers and children, and water and sanitation facilities in schools.

With this funding, UNICEF will provide clean water for 30,000 people in four provinces, and vaccines for 18.3 million mothers and children across Afghanistan.

Amid the devastating humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, the government of Japan has donated to UNICEF $18 million in support of essential vaccines for over 18 million mothers and children, and $3.6 million for water and sanitation facilities in public schools.

The vaccines are for measles, rotavirus, tetanus and diphtheria, polio, hepatitis B and others. These funds will also enable UNICEF to reach around 10 million children with oral polio vaccines during national vaccination campaigns in 2023.

“This support from the Japanese government will not only help to give mothers and children the immunity boost they need to stay healthy, but it will also improve sanitation and hygiene in schools,” said Rushnan Murtaza, UNICEF Afghanistan Deputy Representative.

“Complementing our past support to Afghanistan in health, nutrition and education, we hope these contributions will create cleaner, safer learning environments and communities for children and their families,” says Takashi Okada, Ambassador of Japan to Afghanistan.

Water and sanitation projects will be implemented in Ghor, Uruzgan, Zabul and Pakitika which are among the most deprived provinces in Afghanistan, according to UNICEF officials.

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At least six civilians dead in Kabul explosion



(Last Updated On: March 27, 2023)

At least six civilians were killed and several others, including three Islamic Emirate forces, were wounded in a suicide bombing near a security checkpoint in Malik Azghar Square in Kabul, a spokesman for the Kabul security department, Khalid Zadran said.

The Emergency NGO hospital in Kabul meanwhile said on Twitter that it received 12 injured people, including a child from the blast that happened near the Foreign Ministry on Monday afternoon.

The hospital said soon after the explosion that two bodies had also been taken to the hospital.

So far, no group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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