US State Department spokesperson Ned Price says that the evacuation of US citizens and legal residents from Afghanistan is ongoing. His remarks come amid reports saying thousands of US residents are still in Afghanistan.
Speaking to reporters, Price said efforts are ongoing to help US residents in Afghanistan depart to the United States.
“As of today, the United States government has directly assisted the departure of 435 US citizens and 325 lawful permanent residents. All US citizens who have requested assistance from the US government to depart Afghanistan, and who are ready to do so, have been offered an opportunity to leave the country,” he said.
Price’s remarks come as Foreign Policy magazine reported that it has learned that the State Department believes as many as 14,000 US legal permanent residents remain in Afghanistan.
Republican Representative Chris Smith said the US State Department has failed in the evacuation of American citizens from Afghanistan, as thousands of its legal residents are still in Afghanistan.
“Isn’t the operating assumption about 14,000?” Smith asked Brian McKeon, deputy secretary of state for management and resources, at a hearing, referring to the figure briefed in private. “We don’t track [legal permanent residents],” McKeon responded, Foreign Policy reported.
“Some of them are Afghan-Americans who do not want to leave Afghanistan. Some of them do not reveal their identity due to security concerns. And undoubtedly, among them there could be some people who carry out intelligence activities in Afghanistan,” said Shukria Barakzai, a former Afghan diplomat.
Meanwhile, US Secretary Antony Blinken met with the director of the International Organization for Migration, Antonio Vitorino, on Monday and thanked IOM for its support in the evacuation process from Afghanistan.
“I have to say, especially with the recent evacuation and relocation efforts in Afghanistan, the IOM played an absolutely critical role, stepping up, stepping in. Whether it was at Ramstein or Dulles Airport, working with UNICEF on unaccompanied children, we're so grateful for that work,” he said.
Meanwhile, the international affairs committee of the US congress said it will increase its assessments about the evacuation of US soldiers and their Afghan allies from Afghanistan.