Support Information for Afghan Journalists

Frequently Asked Questions

Reporters without Borders (RSF) is committed to the safety and wellbeing of Afghan journalists. Our organization works towards supporting the sustainability of independent media in Afghanistan and in exile. We have created this page to provide Afghan journalists in distress with updates on open support programs and opportunities.

Unfortunately, the needs of Afghan journalists far outweigh the international assistance programs currently available. For questions regarding Germany's new Humanitarian Federal Admission Program for Afghanistan, please see below.

  • Please note that RSF is first and foremost a press freedom advocacy organization.
  • RSF is NOT a humanitarian aid organization.
  • Because of the limited number of resources at our disposal, our emergency assistance prioritizes journalists at immediate risk due to their reporting.

Please complete our online RSF ASSISTANCE REQUEST FORM below so we may assess whether you might be considered eligible for RSF assistance. Before doing so, please read the information provided here carefully. Please check this FAQ regularly to see if there is new information available.

We regret that because of the incredibly high number of assistance requests from Afghanistan, our team cannot offer individual consultations.

  • Inquiries via email, phone, social media channels or messenger will NOT be answered.
  • Requests or documents that you email to RSF will not be processed.

To learn more about RSF’s Afghanistan work since the August 2021 national takeover of the Taliban, please visit the following link:
https://rsf.org/en/rsf-helps-evacuate-202-afghan-journalists-takes-152-support-measures  

FAQ last updated on: November 22nd, 2022
Please note: A Dari version of this FAQ can be accessed via the language choice option above.

ALERT: DUE TO MAINTENANCE, THE RSF REQUEST FORM WILL BE TAKEN OFFILINE TEMPORAILY WHILE THE SYSTEM IS UNDERGOING UPGRADES. 

You will be able to access existing cases again soon. Meanwhile, see below for issues that have forced us to pause accepting new requests until more information about the German Humanitarian Admission Program become available. 

FAQ - RSF Assistance for Afghan Journalists

Frequently Asked Questions

RSF can provide different kinds of support to journalists for whom we manage to document the journalistic background and specific risks they have been exposed to because of their media work. If verified, you might be eligible for a specific type of short term emergency RSF assistance (e.g. financial aid, administrative support). RSF might also be able to refer you to additional appropriate international programs.

WHAT RSF CAN DO FOR ELIGIBLE CASES:

  • Administrative Assistance: RSF can issue letters of support summarizing the journalists’ background and the threats/safety problems they have been exposed to because of their media work.
  • Financial Assistance: RSF can provide short term financial support to journalists who have left their country in the past six months.
  • Referrals: RSF will be able to refer documented cases to Germany's new Humanitarian Federal Admission Program for Afghanistan, if their profile and situation match the program’s criteria. Please note that at this early stage, the program is not accepting admissions yet.

WHAT RSF CANNOT DO:

  • RSF is an NGO and, as such, does not have the power to evacuate people, nor to deliver visas. Only governments can do this.
  • RSF cannot provide financial support to journalists who are still in Afghanistan.
  • RSF is not an aid organization and cannot provide long term support to alleviate the hardships Afghan journalists are undergoing because of lack of jobs, insecure status in neighboring countries, and general security concerns.

RSF supports independent journalists, and therefore cannot support journalists who have been working as a government spokesperson, or any media attached to a political or armed organization. RSF focuses on journalists gathering news information, and therefore we generally cannot include journalists working on cultural, sports and entertainment programs, unless they can make a legitimate claim about how this type of programming has put them at risk individually because of addressing larger societal or political concerns.

RSF only supports media workers who have been exposed to direct threats because of their news gathering activities. Which means RSF can unfortunately not support administrative and finance officers, IT officers, technical crew incl. studio camera and sound team, video editors, dubbing artists, makeup artists, unless they have been publicly identified as a media worker and personally targeted because of it.

When filling out the RSF ASSISTANCE REQUEST FORM, Afghan journalists will have to answer all the questions marked as mandatory, so that our assistance team can better understand and assess their professional background and current risk situation.

REQUIRED:

  • Detailed information about your journalistic work history
  • Samples of your media work, each with a brief explanation how these reports or topics have put you at risk
  • Contact details and names of media professionals who are familiar with your journalistic background and who are aware of your current risk situation
  • Detailed information regarding the threat(s) you are facing (including dates, perpetrator(s), locations etc.)
  • Work contracts, press passes, degrees and other proof of professional journalistic activity
  • Individualized professional support letters (Please note: a generalized letter about the state of media in Afghanistan with only your name and no individual work history will not be considered)
  • Your personal ID

NOT REQUIRED:

  • No IDs or personal information of family members should be submitted at this point.

This form is strictly a tool to assess your professional background and related risk factors. Should RSF determine that the information provided might make you eligible for specific RSF support or qualify you for specific government programs, you will be referred to the appropriate channels.

Please note: Generic statements that the current situation in Afghanistan is hostile towards journalists will not be sufficient to process your application. In order to be eligible for RSF assistance, your risk has to be clearly linked to your journalistic work. Your detailed answers will enable us to carry out research to determine if and how RSF can assist you. All of your references and documents will be checked very carefully by our assistance team, which is knowledgeable about the Afghan media landscape.

RSF does not as such offer relocation assistance, but can issue letters of support summarizing the journalists’ background and the threats/safety problems they are facing (see above for more information on what RSF can offer). We might also be able to refer eligible cases to specific government programs.

Unfortunately, the new German humanitarian admissions program is NOT open to journalists already residing outside of Afghanistan (see below for more information on criteria). German embassies DO NOT grant appointments or offer visas to journalists at risk who have not already been granted prior visa approval from the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

RSF is continuing to advocate with the relevant German authorities towards adjusting the program to better match the actual realities and needs of Afghan journalists at risk.

We do not, under any circumstance, suggest that people should put themselves at risk by returning to Afghanistan in order to be able to apply to a highly selective program with unpredictable outcomes.

Please fill out the required information in the RSF ASSISTANCE REQUEST FORM as detailed as possible so that we may assess if there might be other types of assistance you might qualify for.

Unfortunately, no.

A strict requirement for the fellowships is the ‘ability and willingness to return to the country of origin after the fellowship period’. This is highly unlikely to be applicable in the case of journalists from Afghanistan, so the German authorities would not be able to issue the necessary visa to enable participation in a temporary program.

Yes.

If you have already opened a case with RSF in the past by filling out a detailed questionnaire, our assistance officers will continue verifying the information you have provided to us. We do need to ask you, however, to fill in and if necessary update your information via the online RSF ASSISTANCE REQUEST FORM as well, so that we can communicate with you securely via the new online system.

Many of our case workers and team members receive the same requests via many different channels. Communicating with a dedicated assistance officer via the online system ensures that your case does not get lost between our different international offices. Using the online system also allows us to process sensitive information and documentation more securely than through email.

Yes.

If you have sent us an unsolicited email request regarding relocation from Afghanistan, this request has not been processed in the absence of viable relocation or assistance programs and limited organizational resources. Please use the online RSF ASSISTANCE REQUEST FORM to ensure that you have provided all mandatory and current information needed to process your request for assistance.

We will assess requests based on an individual journalist’s current risk situation. Accordingly, all applications are being evaluated equally, regardless of whether you had already contacted us in 2021 or are only reaching out to us now because of new threats you are facing.

Please note that in times of high volumes of requests or in the case of difficult to verify information, it might take several weeks to process your case. Please do not open a new case through the RSF ASSISTANCE REQUEST FORM in the meantime as this will lead to longer processing times. We will contact you as soon as your application has been reviewed and the submitted information could be verified.

If you have an update to share with us (e.g. a recent relocation to a different country, new threats, arrest reports or similar) you can alert us to this change of status by updating your existing case in the online system. Otherwise please wait for an assistance officer to get back to you.

Please understand that RSF cannot offer individual email, chat or phone consultations. Using this online form safeguards that your information safely reaches a dedicated assistance officer. Contacting different international RSF offices and departments will only result in you being redirected to this online system.

If your status is marked INCOMPLETE it means that our vetting process has identified that you have either:

a) not presented enough information to be verified as a journalist, or

b) not presented sufficient supporting documentation to validate your current risk status due to your news-gathering activities.

You will receive a message soon asking you to either review your submitted information or to provide further evidence on your journalistic activities and/or associated threat.

Please carefully review the FAQ section above to see what type of information is required:
"What type of documentation do I need to upload to qualify for RSF assistance?"

As of early November 2022, RSF decided to take the REQUEST ASSISTANCE FORM temporarily offline for new applications until further information about the German Humanitarian Admission Program has been published by the German government and the Civil Society Coordination Unit has become fully functional.

Background Information: The RSF online portal is NOT a registration site to directly apply for a visa through the German government’s humanitarian federal admission program.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of alternative means of access, thousands of people in Afghanistan are attempting to register at RSF’s REQUEST ASSISTANCE FORM, which forced us to shut down our online tool for the moment. We published a press statement to that effect on 04.11.2022 [only available in German].

New applications are not accepted during this time. However, if you are already registered you can continue to submit documents or change entries.

Please be patient:

  • The German Humanitarian Admission Program has NOT yet started.
  • Applications can NOT be submitted to it at this time.
  • The German program is NOT a quick evacuation program, so there is no need to sign up quickly. The decision-making process, and ultimately "evacuation", is likely to take  several months, if not years.

FAQ - Information for Journalists about the German Government's new Humanitarian Federal Admission Program for Afghanistan

Frequently Asked Questions

ATTENTION:

- The German Humanitarian Visa Program has not yet officially started and does not currently accept applications.

- The program is NOT a fast evacuation scheme. Processing of applications will take many weeks and up to several months. New approval decisions will be made on a regular basis all throughout the three-year run of the program. For an individual case, this means that a person may not hear back from the government for up to three years.

- Leaving the country after an initial approval will very likely take many more months. If you are currently in danger, the German government will not be able to assist you in an acute threat situation.

No.

RSF can provide different kinds of support to journalists under the condition that we manage to document their journalistic background and the concrete risks they have been exposed to because of their media work. If verified, you might be eligible for a specific type of RSF assistance (e.g. short term financial aid, administrative support). In addition, we may be able to refer your case to appropriate programs, such as Germany's new Humanitarian Federal Admission Program for Afghanistan. Please see below for criteria and eligibility.

ATTENTION: This is a new program that at this stage is not accepting applications yet. Keep checking this FAQ for regular updates.

No.

A new Humanitarian Federal Admission Program for Afghan human rights defenders and vulnerable groups, including journalists, has been announced by the German government on October 17th, 2022, but is not accepting any requests yet. It is expected to be in effect until 2025. 

Please note: This program is not an emergency evacuation program and the German government might take from several months to up to three years to process applications.

Direct individual applications to the program are not being considered at the moment.

For more information you can visit the following government website in GermanEnglish and Farsi (forthcoming).

According to the official criteria of the German government, the new Humanitarian Federal Admission Program for Afghanistan is meant to assist persons with a proven track record in the fields of justice, politics, the media, education, culture, sport or science and women’s rights. The program will also include those defined as falling under vulnerable groups.

Only persons who are at risk IN AFGHANISTAN will be considered for this program. There is no automatic right of being considered purely based on belonging to a specific professional or social group and the program will be highly selective. For journalists to be eligible, they will have to prove how their journalistic work has individually exposed and endangered them and why they cannot safely remain in Afghanistan.

To learn more, please visit the link to the government program website for eligibility and criteria. Please note, this program is not an emergency evacuation program and the German government might take between several months to up to three years to process applications. Direct individual applications to this program are not being considered at the moment.

Persons who have already left Afghanistan to seek safety in third countries will NOT be eligible for this program. We do not, under any circumstance, suggest that people should put themselves at risk by returning to Afghanistan in order to be able to apply to a highly selective program with unpredictable outcomes.

RSF is continuing to advocate with the relevant German authorities towards adjusting the program to better match the actual realities and needs of Afghan journalists.

In the RSF ASSISTANCE REQUEST FORM, we will guide you through a list of questions to see if you might qualify for RSF assistance on the basis of threats connected directly to your journalistic reporting.

Filling out this form will also enable an assistance officer to assess whether you might be eligible for Germany's Humanitarian Federal Admission Program for Afghanistan , or other government programs that might be developed in the future. RSF will not choose or prioritize individual applications, but will try to refer eligible persons to the appropriate channels. Please see above for additional criteria.

Please note: Only the German government can decide who qualifies for their program. Just the fact alone that you worked as a journalist in Afghanistan will not be sufficient grounds for visa approval or evacuation. Potential persecution or risks need to be clearly documented as being directly related to your journalistic reporting activity and public profile. RSF and other NGOs have no decision making authority in this process.

RSF is actively advocating for a more transparent and just program to alleviate some of the mistakes made during the chaotic evacuation in August of 2021 by the international community.

Unfortunately, even with a year lead-up and a new government in place in Germany, the announcement of a new humanitarian admission program in October 2022 was, once again, haphazard and intransparent.

Regardless, RSF decided to keep playing a role in advising the German government about the situation of media and journalists under threat in Afghanistan. This doesn't mean, however, that our recommendations are being heard. Our biggest criticisms to date are that:

  1. the new program needs to be open to journalists who already fled to the safety of third countries within the last year since the takeover of the Taliban, and
     
  2. there needs to be open access to information and a way for Afghan civil society to better understand who is eligible for the program and who is not. Applying directly to the program without already being personally in touch with a German NGO should be possible.

RSF has created this FAQ to assist in making more details about the German government program available to the Afghan media community.

Important background information:

The new German government program is NOT a continuation of its so-called “human rights” list of 2021. It will also not repeat the mistake of closing applications without prior warning.

In August, 2021, media workers all over the country scrambled to get their names on lists of various international governments. RSF did all that was possible within the short time span to include the names of journalists who reached out to our organization. Once the lists were closed, they did not reopen. No waiting lists were honored. We know that the German government alone has received emails with many thousands of requests for evacuation which remain unanswered.

The new program announced in the Fall of 2022 will NOT honor old requests that have not been processed. There is no “Waiting List”. New program criteria mean that someone who might have been evacuated last year, today would not qualify and vice versa. Please see above for more details re: criteria.

All NEW requests for admission to the German government program will initially be vetted by German civil society organizations (so-called “authorized agencies”)  that are familiar with Afghanistan's human rights, media, law and education sectors, as well as with threats posed to vulnerable groups.

RSF will assist the program by referring the cases of ALL journalists under threat that have been sufficiently verified by our organization’s country specialists. Knowing the right people or working for a large media organization is not a prerequisite to be eligible for the program. Being able to speak English is also not required, the request form can be completed in Dari. An editor from a small provincial radio station who can demonstrate how their work has put him or her at risk will be referred just as a famous on-air news personality from a national tv station might. Once referred, however, our organization has no control whatsoever over who will be chosen for the government program and when.

Key factors for eligibility for the German government program include:

  • journalistic track record
  • documented individual threat profile
  • high exposure and visibility

Please see above to understand what TYPE OF DOCUMENTATION will be asked for.

No.

The One Time Passcode  was a single code issued by German government agencies to process a help request at the time and neither back then nor now does it represent a reference or file number. In other words, it is invalid and no longer of use.

RSF will verify each and every application received very carefully. If a request for support is incomplete or not credible, it will not be processed. All documents will be checked, references will be contacted and consulted, and links to publications will be verified. In addition to checking supporting documentation and links, RSF will consult with local media and media support organizations and conduct its own research.

No case will be referred to any government or outside partner organization that has not been carefully vetted for both professional background and threat history. Once referred, however, RSF has no authority over which cases will be prioritized by government programs.

No.

RSF warns very clearly and urgently to not fall victim to opportunistic or criminal “brokers” who charge for their services and promise success with visa registration for Germany. To date, there is no way to register for the program. Paying a broker will not speed up the process and not guarantee a higher approval rate. It might, however, put your life at risk.

Once new applications become possible, they will be verified very carefully by designated German NGOs and civil society actors (“authorized agencies”). There will be no quick and easy way to register. If someone offers their services, be very careful and do not hand over your sensitive information and do not, under any circumstances, meet such “agents” in person.

If you buy a fake press pass, be certain that the RSF assistance team will spot the difference and you will not be admitted to Germany as a “Journalist”. Anyone caught falsifying documents will be automatically excluded.

No.

Being a RSF member, applying for RSF membership and/or making a donation to RSF will not make you more eligible for RSF assistance or ensure that RSF will refer your case to the German Humanitarian Admissions Program. We review and ultimately vet each case according to strict criteria and your verifiable journalistic activity and related threats.

If your professional background and current risks you are facing due to your newsgathering activities make you eligible for RSF assistance, we provide these services free of charge.

No agency or “NGO” that charges for services will be authorized by the German government to process requests.

Under international migration law, only a spouse (or in the case of same-sex couples, a partner) and children under the age of 18 are considered “immediate family” and entitled to visas as a family unit.

For any additional family members, a threat to their wellbeing and safety will need to be convincingly documented and linked to the main applicant. Exceptions may be made in rare circumstances. Please consult for additional information the Federal Admission Program for Afghanistan’s FAQ.

No. The new relocation program is not designed for extended families of previously evacuated journalists.

However, there may be alternative paths:

  • Family Reunification will be an option only for a) spouses and b) children under the age of 18.
    Please seek legal advice.
  • Family members left behind who are at immediate risk directly linked to your journalistic work history might be able to petition the German government for admittance. Please seek legal advice.
  • Humanitarian Federal Admission Program for Afghanistan: If members of your family can demonstrate their own risk factor related to their professional status or clearly defined vulnerability, they can apply separately (e.g. a grown daughter who is a women's rights activist can seek admittance to the program herself). Please note that this program is not currently accepting any individual requests; only civil society groups approved by the German government can input individual names but do not form part of the decision making process.