State Department in contact with the last Americans left in Afghanistan

State Department in contact with the last Americans left in Afghanistan

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds a press conference on Afghanistan at the Department of State August 25, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Alex Brandon | swimming pool | Reuters

WASHINGTON – The State Department said Thursday it was in contact with nearly 1,000 U.S. citizens who are still in Afghanistan and that two-thirds of them are actively trying to leave the country.

Another 500 Americans have been evacuated in the past 24 hours, according to a State Department spokesperson, who requested anonymity to discuss the numbers which are still fluid.

Together, this group of 1,500 American citizens represents the last of nearly 6,000 Americans who, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, were in Afghanistan on August 14. The American airlift began on a large scale.

“The US government does not follow the movements of Americans as they travel around the world,” Blinken explained Wednesday. “There may be other Americans in Afghanistan who have never registered with the embassy, ​​who have ignored public evacuation notices and have yet to identify themselves.”

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“We have also found that many of the people who contact us and identify themselves as US citizens, including filling out and submitting repatriation assistance forms, are in fact not US citizens, which needs to be verified. It may take a while to do so.

On Thursday, the State Department said nearly 500 more people “pretended to be Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave” and that U.S. diplomats were trying to reach them.

But the official said the department was skeptical of some of these last-minute claims:

“Based on our experience, many of them will not turn out to be US citizens who need our help,” the official said.

Of the nearly 660 US citizens contacted by the State Department over the past two days who are actively trying to leave Afghanistan, “many, if not most, are already inside or outside the country. “. “said the spokesperson.

Meanwhile, the United States is also aware of “dozens more” of American citizens “who do not want to leave Afghanistan for various reasons.”

The latest State Department figures highlight one of the more complicated parts of the US withdrawal: tracking down the last US citizen in a country that lacks reliable internet and phone services.

American aid workers and Christian missionaries have been active in Afghanistan for 20 years, often working in communities far from major cities.

It’s unclear exactly how the State Department tracked the last 1,000 people. Officials also did not say what would happen to civilians who were unable to leave the country by the deadline for President Joe Biden’s military withdrawal on August 31.

Efforts to locate and evacuate U.S. citizens became even more dangerous on Thursday, when a suicide bomb attack outside the gates of Kabul airport killed 12 U.S. service members and injured 15 others.

A separate ISIS group in Afghanistan, ISIS-K, claimed responsibility for the attacks, which killed at least 60 Afghan civilians.

Biden is scheduled to speak at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday to address the terrorist attacks and ongoing evacuation efforts.

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