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Emergency funds for journalists forced to flee Swat valley

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has sent emergency funds to help the dozens of Swat valley journalists who have been forced to flee the area because of fighting between the Pakistani army and the Taliban.

More than 30 journalists and their families have had to seek refuge in Peshawar and other cities since the army launched its offensive against Islamist militants in the Swat valley. The valley's newspapers have had to stop publishing and most of their journalists are now without any means of support.

"Like hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens, the journalists and their families have had to flee the extreme violence in the Swat region," Reporters Without Borders said. "Unable to work, these journalists must now concentrate on finding shelter and food for their loved-ones. Reporters Without Borders has sent 5,000 euros in emergency funds which the Khyber Union of Journalists will distribute to help meet their initial needs for housing, food and medical care for themselves and their children."

"The humanitarian crisis is likely to persist so these funds must be seen as just a first step paving the way for massive support for these journalists, whose flight has left the Swat valley without media coverage," Reporters Without Borders added. "We appeal to international news media, journalists unions and organisations that defend the press to mobilise resources to help their Swat valley colleagues."

Khyber Union of Journalists president Mohammad Riaz has issued an appeal on behalf of the Swat valley's media and displaced journalists. No security measures have so far been taken that would enable the media to resume operating in the valley.

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