President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken each confirmed this week that as many as 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan following the end of the U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan. The final U.S. military plane departed the Kabul airport in the very early hours of Tuesday morning local time as the Taliban militant group regained control of Afghanistan.
“Now we believe that about 100 to 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan with some intention to leave,” Biden said Tuesday. “Most of those who remain are dual citizens, long-time residents who had earlier decided to stay because of their family roots in Afghanistan.”
On Monday, Blinken said the Biden administration made “extraordinary efforts” to encourage Americans to leave Afghanistan.
“In many cases talking, and sometimes walking them into the airport. Of those who self-identified as Americans in Afghanistan who were considering leaving the country, we’ve thus far received confirmation that about 6,000 have been evacuated or otherwise departed,” Blinken said. “This number will likely continue to grow as our outreach and arrivals continue.”
Blinken said the State Department does not have a precise number of Americans stranded in Afghanistan largely due to the fact that there are “long-time residents of Afghanistan” who have American passports but were unsure if they wanted to leave. He also said many are “dual-citizen Americans with deep roots and extended families in Afghanistan, who have resided there for many years.”
“Our commitment to them and to all Americans in Afghanistan – and everywhere in the world – continues. The protection and welfare of Americans abroad remains the State Department’s most vital and enduring mission. If an American in Afghanistan tells us that they want to stay for now, and then in a week or a month or a year they reach out and say, ‘I’ve changed my mind,’ we will help them leave,” Blinken claimed.
“Additionally, we’ve worked intensely to evacuate and relocate Afghans who worked alongside us, and are at particular risk of reprisal. We’ve gotten many out, but many are still there. We will keep working to help them. Our commitment to them has no deadline,” he continued. “Third, we will hold the Taliban to its pledge to let people freely depart Afghanistan.”
On Monday, an American citizen who acted as an interpreter for the U.S. military told CNN that she is stranded in the now Taliban-controlled country because no one notified her that the final flights were leaving.
“I just found out that [the last US troops] left, and I was just silent for a while,” the interpreter using the pseudonym Sara for safety told the outlet. “I just can’t believe no one told me that this is the last flight.”
The interpreter said she is more terrified now than during any of the missions in which she assisted the United States over the last 14 years. She said she has 19 children in her house, including two who are disabled, adding, “I can’t leave them behind.”
“They left us to whom? To those people who wanted to always kill us?” she continued. “If Americans could not help me when they were on the ground, how will they help me now when no one is here. … Is anyone going to rescue me now?”