In 2023, RSF provided financial assistance to 460 journalists who were being threatened or had to flee abroad

RSF vient en aide aux journalistes à l'étranger

The Assistance Desk of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has seen a huge surge in requests for help from journalists who have been threatened in connection with their work in 62 countries. Two thirds of the financial assistance provided in 2023 enabled reporters to relocate to a safer place in their country or supported journalists who had to flee abroad.

RSF’s Assistance Desk provided financial assistance to 460 journalists in 62 countries in 2023, nearly twice as many as in 2022, when 223 journalists received financial assistance. RSF sent a total of 998,302 euros to journalists in danger this year. The average individual sum was 2,000 euros. 

The grants that RSF’s Assistance Desk disburses to journalists help to cover the costs of resettling in a new country, relocating to a safer place, legal or medical fees, or the acquisition of professional equipment. This emergency assistance is intended to help them keep working. RSF investigates each request for help carefully in order to document the journalist’s professional background and the threats faced in connection with his work.

“The emergency funds sent by RSF enable journalists to find a safe refuge and keep working despite the threat of imprisonment or death to which they are exposed because they are journalists. In environments characterised not only by persecution but also by disinformation and propaganda, helping journalists to pursue their activity is a priority. Emergency grants are often the first link in a long support chain designed to achieve this.

Antoine Bernard
RSF’s Advocacy and Assistance Director

Helping journalists in crisis-torn countries

RSF helps threatened journalists all over the world, but the map of countries whose journalists received the most grants in 2023 overlaps to a significant degree with the map of geopolitical crises in the last two years. The countries where RSF most intervened in 2023 were Afghanistan (156 grants issued), Russia (40), Myanmar (30), Palestine (27), Iran (23) and Sudan (19).

Assisting journalists forced to flee abroad

Two thirds of the financial assistance provided by RSF’s Assistance Desk in 2023 went to cover the relocation or resettlement costs of journalists who have been forced to flee into exile. This breakdown of grants has remained constant in recent years, reflecting the continuing insecurity faced by journalists.

In Afghanistan, where independent journalists have continued to be persecuted since the Taliban retook power in August 2021, arrests surged in 2023. Many journalists have had to abandon journalism or seek refuge in neighbouring Pakistan, where their legal and financial status is extremely precarious.

Also, in Myanmar, the 2021 coup continues to have a traumatic impact on the media landscape, as the military junta relentlessly pursues its war against the right to information. Journalists are forced to flee to neighbouring Thailand, where they continue working as best they can. Many of them lack long-term Thai residence permits and must keep moving to avoid arrest. Some of these exile journalists expose themselves to an additional risk of arrest, in order to keep covering the news in their country, by illegally entering and leaving Myanmar across the border at regular intervals. Grants from the Assistance Desk help to cover their accommodation and travel costs.

 In Sudan, where two generals continue their power struggle, many journalists were attacked by parties to the conflict and were forced to flee abroad. The assistance provided by RSF helped to cover the costs of the transport and visas they needed to reach safety.

In Iran, journalists who covered the wave of protests following student Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody were subjected to a major crackdown that targeted both journalists within the country and those abroad. RSF’s Assistance Desk provided 23 of them with emergency grants to help them find a safe refuge.

Helping journalists to keep reporting

In Russia, judicial repression has also driven many journalists to flee to Europe and continue their work there, particularly in combating the Kremlin’s propaganda. RSF’s grants have helped to cover the administrative and legal fees involved in securing their residence permits.

In Palestine, the situation is catastrophic for journalists who are trapped in the Gaza Strip and are threatened every day with strikes by the Israel Defence Forces. In partnership with Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ), RSF’s Assistance desk provided 27 Gazan journalists with funding for the purchase of professional equipment, including phones, e-SIMs, laptops and solar batteries, so that they could continue informing the rest of the world.


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