On February 21, 2022, Long Island University announced the 2021 George Polk Awards. Pulitzer Center grantee Ian Urbina and board member Azmat Khan were recognized for their work in the categories of International Reporting and Military Reporting, respectively.
Urbina’s reporting for The New Yorker in collaboration with Outlaw Ocean Project exposed how the European Union was intercepting migrants in Libya. In his extensive coverage of secret prisons operating in Libya, Urbina uncovered the true extent of the human rights violations occurring in these prisons at the hands of the Libyan Coast Guard. Despite aid workers and international NGOs sounding the alarm, the EU turned the other way prior to Urbina’s publication.
Khan and other members of The New York Times won for their reporting on the impact of airstrikes in the Middle East and how they are often deadly for civilians and aid workers. Her team’s most recent coverage of airstrikes looks at the American withdrawal from Afghanistan. Khan has been reporting and researching extensively on this story for four years. With a multitude of documents, she has helped to uncover details about how these drone attacks can often go unreported and understated.
The George Polk Awards honor journalists in fifteen categories across a range of subjects. The awards were named for George Polk, a CBS correspondent. Polk was murdered in 1948 while reporting on the Greek Civil War.
In reflecting on this year's winners, LIU President Kimberly R. Cline said: “The work of these distinguished journalists proves that diligent reporting will always have the power to affect positive change throughout the world. Long Island University is pleased to recognize this year’s George Polk Award winners for their exceptional investigations that will be remembered over the course of history.”