About 1,500 US citizens still in Afghanistan: Secretary of state Blinken

The US Embassy warned Americans to avoid traveling to the airport without individual instructions from a US government (PHOTO: FORBES)

Around 1,500 American citizens remain in Afghanistan ahead of a rapidly approaching August 31 deadline for the US to withdraw troops from the country.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a briefing with reporters said 4,500 Americans have been evacuated from Afghanistan in the past 10 days and “we’ve been in direct contact with approximately 500 additional Americans and provided specific instructions on how to get to the airport safely.”

He said officials have had a difficult time tracking down the other estimated 1,000 American citizens who might still be in the country. “We’re aggressively reaching out to them multiple times a day, through multiple channels of communication — phone, email, text messaging — to determine whether they still want to leave,” Blinken said, adding that some may have already left the country without notifying the government.

READ MORE: Taliban to be held accountable on terrorism, human rights: G7 leaders

Blinken noted some may have decided to stay. “Many of them are dual nationals and may consider Afghanistan their home, who lived there for decades or who want to stay close to extended family,” Blinken said. He also said some of the 1,000 “may have claimed to be Americans but turned out not to be.”

“We’ll continue to try to identify the status and plans of these people in the coming days,” he said, but “from this list of approximately 1,000, we believe the number of Americans actively seeking assistance to leave Afghanistan is lower, likely significantly lower.”

The US Embassy warned Americans to avoid traveling to the airport without individual instructions from a US government representative, citing security threats outside the gates of Kabul airport early Thursday. 

It urged citizens at three specific gates to “leave immediately.” A State Department spokesperson called it a dynamic and volatile security situation on the ground. President Joe Biden has been under significant pressure both at home and abroad to extend the deadline to pull troops from Afghanistan in the wake of a rapid Taliban takeover, but he has repeatedly declined to push it back. 

 

 

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