The State Department informed Congressional staff on Thursday that it was in contact with 363 U.S. citizens in Afghanistan, 176 of whom wish to leave, two sources familiar with the call told CNN.
Figures presented in this appeal underscore the continuing challenge facing the Biden administration as Americans continue to seek help to leave Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover and chaotic state withdrawal. -United.
Thursday’s figures – combined with evacuation figures since Aug. 31 – show a much higher number of Americans seeking to leave Afghanistan than what the administration publicly estimated at the time of the US withdrawal.
The day before the evacuation from the United States in late August, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the State Department was tracking “a small number of Americans, under 200 and probably over 100, who remain. in Afghanistan and want to leave. “
More than 200 US citizens have been evacuated by the US government in the nearly two months following the military withdrawal, but the number of Americans seeking to leave Afghanistan is still in the range of 100 to 200 .
State Department spokesman Ned Price noted this week that more people have come forward as part of the ongoing evacuation efforts.
Officials in the Biden administration have always pointed out the difficulty of tracking the number of American citizens in the country, and it is not known how many Americans were in the country when the United States pulled out on August 31.
In his remarks at the end of August, Blinken noted that there are “long-time residents of Afghanistan who have US passports, and who were trying to determine whether or not they wanted to leave.”
“Many are Americans with dual citizenship with deep roots and extended families in Afghanistan who have resided there for many years. For many it is a painful choice,” he said.
“If an American in Afghanistan tells us he wants to stay for now, and then in a week, a month or a year, he reaches out to us and says, ‘I’ve changed my mind,’ we will help get out, ”Blinken said. added.
On Thursday evening, Price tweeted that the United States “facilitated the departure of 234 US citizens and 144 LPRs. [lawful permanent residents] from Kabul since August 31. “
“These are the number of people whose departures we directly facilitated. An additional number of US citizens and LPRs left on private charters or crossed independently via a land border,” another spokesperson told CNN on Friday. of the State Department.
“The number of US citizens and LPRs we are helping is dynamic as we review manifests, receive reports from colleagues in the field and assist with departures,” they said.
In addition to the more than 100 US citizens who are asking for help leaving Afghanistan, there are dozens of Afghans – many of whom worked for the US military – who were left behind during the US military withdrawal and desperately trying to leave.
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