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US Lawmakers Push Biden to Evacuate USAGM Journalists, Families 


Hundreds of people gather near an evacuation control checkpoint during ongoing evacuations at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 25, 2021.

U.S. lawmakers pushed President Joe Biden on Wednesday to evacuate hundreds of people affiliated with the U.S. Agency for Global Media from Afghanistan as Washington rushes to meet a troop withdrawal deadline of August 31.

In a letter sent to Biden on Wednesday, Senator Ben Cardin and Representative William Keating said about 550 people — employees of USAGM and their families — are still trying to leave Afghanistan.

USAGM is an independent federal agency that encompasses several news networks, including the Voice of America and Radio Azadi.

"We stress to you that the 550 USAGM employees and their families are no different from journalists you have already doggedly worked to evacuate," the letter read, noting that the administration has worked with multiple American publications to evacuate their employees. The letter was signed by 67 lawmakers.

"They have been and continue to be a target for the Taliban due to their association with the United States government," the letter stated.

USAGM responded Thursday to a request for comment on Wednesday, saying, "USAGM is grateful for the support and leadership shown by Representative Keating and Senator Cardin. We are working with partners throughout the U.S. government to secure the safety of our staff in Afghanistan."

Evacuation efforts for Afghan journalists have increased this week amid reports that Taliban fighters have been searching the homes of some media workers.

In the past week, the Taliban searched properties belonging to at least five journalists, media rights organizations said.

The reports of harassment and searches come a week after the Taliban held its first news conference in Kabul.

The White House said Wednesday that since August 14, the U.S. has evacuated or helped evacuate about 82,300 people on U.S. military and coalition flights in one of the largest airlifts in history. Since the end of July, the U.S. has relocated about 88,000 people.

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