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Roughly 1,500 US citizens likely still in Afghanistan -Blinken

Roughly 1,500 US citizens likely still in Afghanistan -Blinken
August 26, 2021 Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – There are still about 1,500 US citizens in Afghanistan and the US government is working to either contact them or has already given them instructions on how to get to Kabul airport, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

Blinken said at a news conference that Washington has so far evacuated 4,500 US citizens and their families as President Joe Biden's deadline of Aug. 31 to withdraw US troops is just days away.

When the US evacuation effort began, there were as many as 6,000 American citizens in Afghanistan who wanted to leave, based on a US analysis, Blinken said. He said officials had been in direct contact with 500 of those remaining in the past 24 hours and provided specific instructions on how to get to Kabul airport safely.

"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. The figures do not include green card holders - those authorized to live and work in the United States.

Biden's administration has for days struggled to provide a specific figure for both the number of Americans evacuated so far and those who are still in Afghanistan. Blinken, while providing the figures, cautioned they may change by the hour.

"From this list of approximately 1,000, we believe the number of Americans actively seeking assistance to leave Afghanistan is lower, likely significantly lower," he said.

He also said 45 percent to 46 percent of the more than 82,000 people who have so far been evacuated have been women and children.