In the 18 months since the Taliban retook full control of Afghanistan, 177 radio stations have gone off the air in the country, displacing about 1,900 journalists and other employees.
In a statement released on World Radio Day 2023, the Afghan Independent Journalists Association noted that during the Islamic Republic period from 2004–2021, there were as many as 401 radio stations operating in Afghanistan. As the Taliban Insurgency increased its control of the country, about 56 stations went off the air before the Taliban took control and reinstated the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in August 2021.
Since then, around 120 stations have ceased broadcasting due to economic pressures. The AIJA stated that only 223 stations currently operate in the country.
[Related: “RFE/RL Beams Its Way Back into Afghanistan”]
With these stations going dark, more than 1,900 journalists and media workers are now unemployed in the country, include 1,075 women.
On Feb. 15, UNESCO Senior Program Specialist for Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists Andrea Cairola and UNESCO Kabul Senior Program Officer Basir Quraishi met with leaders from the AJIA and the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee to discuss journalists’ safety, economic hardships, and the overall challenges facing Afghan media.
AJIA and AJSC have both worked to encourage Afghan officials at both the national and provincial level to be more responsive to the needs of journalists and to protect their ability to operate without censorship or threats of violence.