Lower than 1,000 Individuals are searching for evacuation from Afghanistan
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about refugee programs for Afghans who have helped the US during a briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC, on August 2, 2021.
Brendan Smialowski | Reuters
WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that fewer than 1,000 U.S. citizens may be looking for evacuation from Afghanistan.
“The US government does not follow the movements of the Americans when they travel around the world,” said Blinken. “There could be other Americans in Afghanistan who have never signed up with the embassy, who ignored public evacuation instructions, and have not yet identified themselves,” he added.
“We have also found that many people who contact us and identify themselves as American citizens, even by filling out and submitting repatriation assistance forms, are in fact not US citizens, which may take some time to decide to verify,” to stay in Afghanistan, “said the country’s top diplomat.
Blinken’s press conference, his first since the Afghan government collapsed with the Taliban more than a week ago, comes as US and coalition forces step up emergency evacuation flights.
In the past 24 hours, Western forces evacuated 19,000 people from Kabul on 90 military cargo plane flights, which, according to the Pentagon, corresponds to a departure frequency every 39 minutes.
Since the mass evacuations began on August 14, around 82,300 people have been flown out of Afghanistan. Around 87,900 people have been evacuated since the end of July, including around 4,500 US citizens and their families.
The Pentagon announced on Wednesday that 10,000 people are currently waiting for a flight at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
President Joe Biden reaffirmed Tuesday to leaders of the G-7, NATO, the United Nations and the European Union that the United States will withdraw its military from Afghanistan by the end of the month.
The president warned that staying in Afghanistan for extended periods of time poses serious risks to foreign troops and civilians. Biden said ISIS-K, an offshoot of the terrorist group based in Afghanistan, posed a growing threat to Hamid Karzai International Airport.
“Every day we are there is another day we know that ISIS-K is trying to attack the airport and target both US and Allied forces and innocent civilians,” he said.