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Congressman Slams Failure to Evacuate USAGM Journalists from Afghanistan


Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, center, speaks on the close of the war in Afghanistan, at the Capitol in Washington, Aug. 31, 2021.

Republican Representative Michael McCaul called it a "disgrace" that the U.S. government failed to evacuate USAGM journalists from Afghanistan before officially ending military operations in the country.

"It is absolutely disgraceful the U.S. State Department claimed they evacuated their local employees when in reality they abandoned hundreds of USAGM journalists and their families," McCaul, the House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking Republican, wrote in a statement Tuesday.

The U.S. Agency for Global Media, or USAGM, is an independent federal agency that encompasses several news networks, including the Voice of America and Radio Azadi.

Taliban special forces fighters arrive at the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. military's withdrawal, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 31, 2021.
Taliban special forces fighters arrive at the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. military's withdrawal, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 31, 2021.

In his statement, McCaul estimated that roughly 500 USAGM employees and their families remain in Afghanistan. It said many of them were given assurances by the Biden administration that they would be evacuated.

USAGM has not yet responded to requests for comment.

Washington announced the end of the U.S. mission to Afghanistan during a news conference Monday at the Pentagon, telling reporters the last U.S. aircraft had departed Kabul just before midnight local time.

House Foreign Affairs Republicans tell VOA they are pushing the administration to ensure the safe departure of USAGM employees but say they are not sure how it will happen after the U.S. military departure. Some who have been advocating for private charters are aware of complications in getting journalists out of hiding and safely to airports.

When asked about the USAGM journalists in a briefing Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, "We are going to extraordinary and all appropriate lengths to bring them to safety as quickly as we can."

Days before the end of U.S. military evacuations from Kabul, dozens of lawmakers urged Biden to ensure safe passage for hundreds of USAGM journalists.

"We stress to you that the 550 USAGM employees and their families are no different from journalists you have already doggedly worked to evacuate," a letter signed by 67 members of Congress read.

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