State Department refuses: When State Department spokesman Ned Price decided to withdraw U.S. forces on Friday, he declined to determine the number of Afghan migrants who had left Kabul by the August 31 deadline.
“That total number depends on a few factors. First, it depends on the number of people who want to be rehabilitated,” Price told reporters. “We have contacted many of these people. We are offering to make it convenient for them. If they want to change, in some cases, we suggest that they consider the route to the airport compound.
But when reporters pressed again on the specific number of Afghans at risk, the State Department hopes to try and evacuate the country, failing to give a rough approximate number.
“The broader issue here is that in recent days we have dramatically increased capacity,” he said. “The point is, we’re going to do as much as we can for as many people as possible.”
In an interview with ABC’s George Stefanopoulos this week, President Biden said 50,000 to 65,000 endangered Afghans were trying to leave the country.
However Refugee International estimates that at least 200,000 Afghans are looking to flee the recently collapsed state.
Price said the State Department is conducting “ongoing” conversations with U.S. citizens, endangered Afghans, third-country nationals, and “partners who have worked with us on the field.”
But since Biden has only 11 days to fully withdraw from Afghanistan until August 31, reporters questioned the Foreign Ministry spokesman as to what would happen if not all of them fled the country within that time frame.
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“The Taliban … have assured us that they will allow Afghans who want to leave the country after August 31,” Price said. “They have at least argued that they agree with us that a functioning, safe and functional airport is essential for the well-being of the Afghan people and the management of the Afghan economy.”
“These are the words of the Taliban, we will take what they are,” he later said.
Nearly 13,000 people have been evacuated on U.S. military planes since Aug. 14 – 5,700 of whom have been evacuated in the past 24 hours.
The president said he was committed to the evacuation of 10,000 to 15,000 Americans from Afghanistan and that he hoped to retain U.S. military forces after August 31.
But he is not committed to staying in a Taliban-dominated country for the rest of the Afghan allies and their families looking to flee.
“Everyone has a commitment to get out, of course, we can get out and everyone has to come out,” Biden said. “Same goal. That’s what we’re doing now, that’s the way we’re going. And I think we’ll get there.”
“If we do not, we will decide who is left at that point,” he added.
Earlier this week the Pentagon said it expects to move 5,000 to 9,000 people a day to reach its goal of bringing all Americans and Afghan allies out of Kabul.