An AP Report on Its Staff in Afghanistan and Haiti

From Connecting, a website edited by Paul Stevens for current and former staff of the AP:

In what surely will become an iconic photo – made by AP – the Taliban takes over the office of the Afghan president after the fall of Kabul on Sunday, which has journalists worldwide fearful for their colleagues, friends, guides and translators, and their families, still in the country.

This morning, AP’s Brian Carovillano wrote to staff about colleagues in Afghanistan, as well as earthquake-rocked Haiti: “First, and most importantly, we can report that everyone IS safe, thanks to the smart instincts of our colleagues, deep local knowledge and outside support from people across the company.” Read more below.

From Afghanistan to Haiti, this weekend presented significant challenges for AP to put out a strong news report to its customers and the world, while keeping our journalists, our support staff and their families safe.

First, and most importantly, we can report that everyone IS safe, thanks to the smart instincts of our colleagues, deep local knowledge and outside support from people across the company.Our Kabul staff and freelancers, across departments, are currently assessing their options. Some had already left the country to relocate their families; many others have now obtained visas that will allow them to leave if they desire and when circumstances allow. The situation is clearly alarming and changing by the hour in Kabul. At the moment, getting a flight out is basically impossible due to the mass exodus and airspace restrictions related to the evacuation of the U.S. embassy. Know that we are working in all quarters to ensure that, for those who want to leave, AP is doing everything it can to facilitate that as soon as it’s possible.

After a chaotic Sunday, things have settled down on the streets of Kabul, and our team and their families are largely laying low and being very careful. They are also still reporting the news, but their first, second and third priority is keeping themselves and their loved ones safe.

Across AP, there’s an ongoing, 24-7 effort to ensure our colleagues have everything they need, and AP managers are coordinating closely with other news organizations with staff inside Afghanistan. We continue to work with staff and freelancers – including some former AP personnel – to weigh their options with regard to both short-term travel solutions and longer-term resettlement programs. Many of you have generously offered to help. Some have jumped in and are helping to propel the journalism. And the AP’s Emergency Relief Fund is certainly an invaluable resource for colleagues in need at times of crisis. All of this is greatly appreciated and yet another sign of how AP people help each other, all over the world.

Meanwhile in Haiti, our team of freelancers also performed heroics over the weekend, and have been bolstered by a cross-format team arriving from the wider region even as a major storm bears down on the island. Everyone is safe, but working as a journalist in Haiti is fraught with danger even in the best of time, due to gang violence and other threats. We are also taking steps to ensure their safety comes first.

In both cases, this weekend represented the best of the AP — brave and illuminating coverage across formats in the toughest conditions. People from far and wide jumping in to help. As ever, safety is our main focus. So far, both teams have continued to cover the news brilliantly without undue risk. If that changes they will prioritize safety and security, even if that means scaling back on some news coverage.

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