Afghanistan. Two foreign journalists released after their detention | Media News

Two international journalists freed after being detained while on mission with UNHCR, according to the UN refugee agency.

Two international journalists detained while on assignment for the UN refugee agency in the Afghan capital have been released, the agency said.

“We are relieved to confirm the release in Kabul of the two journalists serving with UNHCR and the Afghan nationals working with them,” the UN refugee agency said in a statement on Friday.

One of the reporters is Andrew North, a former British BBC correspondent who covered Afghanistan for around 20 years and traveled regularly to the war-torn country to report on its deteriorating humanitarian crisis.

Earlier, his wife Natalia Antelava called for his release and wrote in a tweet: ‘Andrew was in Kabul working for UNHCR and trying to help the Afghan people.

Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid earlier said authorities were looking into the matter.

There was no indication of what prompted the detentions. United Nations agencies employ journalists to report on their work around the world.

Calls to release former journalist

Separately, on Friday, friends of a former British-German journalist detained in Afghanistan urged authorities to release him, saying they believed he was detained by mistake.

Peter Jouvenal was arrested in December while in the country for work and family reasons, his friends said in a statement.

“Peter Jouvenal’s friends are deeply concerned for his safety following his arrest by Afghan authorities in early December,” the statement said. “He is being held without charge and without freedom to contact his family or lawyers.”

“Peter’s family and friends believe he may have been detained by mistake as he was in Afghanistan discussing investments in the Afghan mining industry as well as running a family business. Prior to his arrest, he worked openly and met frequently with senior Taliban officials.

“We urgently call on the Afghan authorities to release Peter,” the statement said.

Since the Taliban took control of the country in August, concerns have grown over a crackdown on dissent. The UN has repeatedly sounded the alarm over women’s rights activists who have gone missing in recent weeks.

Security has improved dramatically since the Taliban defeated NATO-backed Afghan forces, but the radical group has cracked down hard on journalists, with local reporters paying the heaviest price.

At least 50 Afghan media workers have been arrested or detained by police or the Taliban’s intelligence agency, Reporters Without Borders said in a report earlier this month.

The arrests, often accompanied by violence, lasted from hours to nearly a week, the Paris-based Press Freedom Observatory said.

Afghanistan has long been one of the most dangerous countries in the world for the media.

Several journalists, including women, have been killed in a series of targeted attacks blamed on the Taliban as they prepare for their offensive to regain control.

Foreign nations have refused to recognize the Taliban-led administration but have stepped up their engagement as they try to avert a huge humanitarian crisis stemming from an economy jammed by sanctions and a halt in development funding since the group took power.

A Taliban delegation traveled to Geneva this week for talks with aid agencies and meetings with Swiss officials. The Swiss Foreign Ministry has announced its intention to call on the Taliban to respect human rights and international humanitarian law.

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