Fewer than 1,000 Americans are still seeking evacuation from Afghanistan, State Department estimates
WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that there may be less than 1,000 U.S. citizens still seeking evacuation from Afghanistan, a calculation that he described as "difficult to pin down with absolute precision at any given moment."
"The U.S. government does not track Americans' movements when they travel around the world," Blinken explained. "There could be other Americans in Afghanistan who never enrolled with the Embassy, who ignored public evacuation notices and have not yet identified themselves," he added.
"We've also found that many people who contact us and identify themselves as American citizens, including by filling out and submitting repatriation assistance forms are not, in fact, U.S. citizens, something that can take some time to verify. And some Americans may choose to stay in Afghanistan," the nation's top diplomat said.
Blinken's press conference, his first since the collapse of the Afghan government to the Taliban more than a week ago, comes as U.S. and coalition forces intensify emergency evacuation flights.
In the past 24 hours, Western forces evacuated 19,000 people out of Kabul on 90 military cargo aircraft flights, a cadence of one departure flight every 39 minutes, according to the Pentagon.
Since the mass evacuations began Aug. 14, approximately 82,300 people have been airlifted out of Afghanistan. About 87,900 people have been evacuated since the end of July, including about 4,500 U.S. citizens and their families.
The Pentagon said Wednesday that 10,000 people are currently at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul awaiting a flight.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday reiterated to leaders of the G-7, NATO, United Nations and European Union that the United States will withdraw its military from Afghanistan by the end of the month.
The president warned that staying longer in Afghanistan carries serious risks for foreign troops and civilians. Biden said that ISIS-K, an affiliate of the terror group based in Afghanistan, presents a growing threat to Hamid Karzai International Airport.
"Every day we're on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both U.S. and allied forces and innocent civilians," he said.
Read more on the developments in Afghanistan:
Biden sticks to Aug. 31 Afghanistan withdrawal deadline, despite pressure to extend it
Taliban will no longer allow Afghans to go to Kabul airport for evacuation, spokesman says
Three ways the victory of the Taliban might reverberate around the world
Three babies have been born aboard U.S. evacuation flights out of Afghanistan
Source: Read Full Article