American commanders worked with the Taliban to facilitate the evacuation of more than 124,000 people from Afghanistan in recent weeks. Both the United States and the Taliban share a common threat in the Islamic State, which was responsible for an attack outside Kabul airport last week that killed 13 U.S. service members and more than 170 civilians.
Facebook helped a group of Afghan journalists — along with its employees — flee to Mexico before the last U.S. troops pulled out of Afghanistan this week.
175 Afghan nationals, composed of Facebook employees, activists, journalists and their families — including 75 children — landed in Mexico City on Tuesday, according to Mexico’s foreign ministry.
“In the process of assisting Facebook employees and close partners leave Afghanistan, we joined an effort to help a group of journalists and their families who were in grave danger,” a Facebook spokesman said Thursday. “The journalists have been welcomed in Mexico.”
Facebook declined to give further details on the evacuation effort, citing security reasons.
As Taliban militants took over cities across Afghanistan last month, including the capital, Kabul, many Afghans closed down their social media accounts and deleted messages amid fears of reprisals. Facebook has an official ban on Taliban content from its platforms because it considers the group to be a terrorist organization, although new Taliban accounts still surface, according to numerous reports.
The social media company said on Aug. 20 it had added several security features for Afghan users to “help protect [them] from being targeted” — a candid admission from Facebook’s security policy chief on the risks of having personal information available on social networks.
Mexico has emerged as something of a haven for media workers in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. The group of evacuees that landed in Mexico on Tuesday was the latest of four such humanitarian efforts involving Mexico. They traveled with help from Mexican embassy officials in Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, the foreign ministry said.
“In keeping with Mexico’s principles of solidarity with asylum seekers, refugees and those seeking humanitarian protection in our country, additional groups of Afghan citizens are expected to arrive in the coming days,” the officials said, adding that the arrivals will be provided for by “private sponsors and civil society organizations.”