Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that there are approximately 1,500 people who may be Americans left in the country, and added that when evacuation operations began, there was a population of as many as 6,000 American citizens in Afghanistan who wanted to leave.
Blinken said the US has “evacuated at least 4,500 American citizens and likely more” since Aug. 14, and more than 500 were evacuated in the last day alone.
“Over the past 24 hours 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.
“For the remaining roughly 1,000 contacts that we had who may be Americans seeking to leave Afghanistan, we’re aggressively reaching out to them multiple times a day through multiple channels of communication,” Blinken said.
He noted that some may have left the country, some may not actually be Americans, and some may choose to stay.
He said the State Department believes “the number of Americans actively seeking to leave Afghanistan is lower, likely significantly lower,” but noted that they are “dynamic” calculations.
Blinken noted that Americans are not required to register with the State Department, making precise counts difficult.
A senior State Department officials said the department is reaching out “incessantly” to the group of 1,000 people believed to be Americans who may wish to leave Afghanistan, but “in many cases, we have not heard back from them.”
The official said they are “using every form of contact that we have to determine a few things: number one, if they are in fact American citizens. Number two, If they wish to leave, where they are, if they would be traveling with families and how we can help them.
“So that is our focus right now, look, the fact that we were able to evacuate and start the process of repatriation of more than 500 passport holders yesterday is an indication that we’re making good progress here with the remaining individuals we believe to be American citizens,” the official said.
They said not hearing back from the people “could mean any number of things.”
“It could mean that that is the person on the end of the line isn’t in fact, a passport holder. There was some error in the data. It could mean that they’ve already left, and we certainly expect that applies to a number of Americans,” the official said, noting the department had warned US citizens for months to leave Afghanistan.
“We are not going to leave anything to chance. That is why we are calling and re-calling, emailing and re-emailing this universe of individuals we believe may be American citizens who’re still in Afghanistan,” they said.