Mexico welcomes 124 Afghan refugee journalists, families

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico welcomed a group of 124 Afghan media workers and their families Wednesday after the group fled their country because of the Taliban takeover.

The group arrived aboard a Qatar Emiri Air Force flight to Mexico City in the pre-dawn hours. The Foreign Relations Department said the Afghans had worked for “various media outlets” and had requested humanitarian visas because of the Taliban’s hostility toward journalists.

The New York Times reported that a group of its journalists had been taken in by Mexico and arrived Wednesday.

Mexico accepted its first group of refugees from Afghanistan on Tuesday, when five women and one man arrived in Mexico City.

The young women, who had to travel through six countries to reach Mexico, have competed in robotics competitions. They fled Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country earlier this month. The Taliban have been hostile to women working or going to school after a certain age.

Mexico’s interior secretary, Olga Sánchez Cordero, said Wednesday that Mexico would grant asylum “to those Afghan citizens who require it.”

The offer of safe haven to Afghan journalists is a sharp contrast in a country that is unable to protect its own reporters.

Press groups say nine journalists were killed in Mexico in 2020, making it the most dangerous country for reporters outside war zones. Six have been killed so far in 2021.

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