Charlotte Bellis leaves Afghanistan amid concerns for her safety

Charlotte Bellis. Photo: Instagram
Charlotte Bellis. Photo: Instagram
Intrepid Christchurch-born journalist Charlotte Bellis has ended her assignment in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, as threats against news media from the war-torn country’s rulers escalate.

Bellis returned to the headquarters of Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera last month, shortly after the first commercial flight since the Taliban regime began in August landed in the capital Kabul.

The 35-year-old, employed as the network’s senior producer for Afghanistan, recorded the arrival of a Qatar Airways service on September 9 via social media and is believed to have boarded the return flight to Doha a day later.

Back in Canterbury, a relieved Bruce Bellis confirmed his daughter was no longer in Afghanistan.

"They [Al Jazeera] pulled her out, she’s back in [the capital] Doha," he said.

"It’s not conducive for women being in a Taliban-controlled area, you’ll be aware of their views regarding women."

Bellis was already stationed in Kabul when the current regime swept to power and initially opted to stay because her nationality and employer - then regarded sympathetically by the Taliban - offered a measure of security.

The Al Jazeera newsroom. Photo: Christophe Calais / Corbis via Getty Images
The Al Jazeera newsroom. Photo: Christophe Calais / Corbis via Getty Images
She was provided with escorts from the Taliban when leaving the sanctuary of Al Jazeera’s accommodation to report on mass evacuations of US and other foreign military and civilians.

Bellis had also built a strong network of contacts within the Taliban since she began covering Afghanistan in 2017, but last month the attitude to foreign journalists hardened.

On September 12, Bellis noted the change on her Twitter feed, advising her 32,000 followers: In August (Taliban) tells international media we welcome criticism as we want to improve, we just ask you to report fairly and objectively. Taliban in September: fighters detain, flog and beat #journalists covering #protests.

Bellis, who launched her television career in Christchurch with TVNZ in 2009, also worked with Sky News and the BBC before joining Al Jazeera.

 

 

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