The State Department reportedly admitted to congressional staff Friday that there are 363 Americans still left in Afghanistan and 176 who are actively communicating with the Biden administration and want to be rescued — hundreds more Americans the State Department previously said remained on the ground behind enemy lines.
CNN’s Phil Mattingly tweeted Friday that the “State Dept. informed congressional staff Thursday that it is in touch with 363 American citizens in Afghanistan, 176 of whom want to leave.”
The State Department insisted, as recently as a Monday briefing from spokesman Ned Price, that there were around 100 to 200 Americans still inside Afghanistan, not all of whom were actively seeking an evacuation.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, ahead of the United States military’s finalized withdrawal from Afghanistan, that there were “a small number of Americans, under 200 and likely closer to 100, who remain in Afghanistan and want to leave.”
In late September, CNN reported, a Biden administration said that the State Department was “working to facilitate the departure of approximately 100 American citizens and legal permanent residents ready to leave Afghanistan,” and that while the number of Americans was “fluid,” that the agency was “constantly touching base” with citizens they thought were still on the ground.
On Monday, Price clung to the 100-200 number, though he also suggested that the number of Americans looking to leave Afghanistan has grown since the pullout.
In terms of a number of American citizens, this is a figure that, as you know, is not static. It is not immutable precisely because as Americans in the country – some of whom may be identifying themselves to us for the first time – see that we are able to effect the safe departure of Americans and LPRs and others from Afghanistan, that their calculus has changed. They have determined that they do wish to depart the country. That range has been anywhere from below a 100 – right now it is somewhere in between 100 and 200 given that some Americans have – additional Americans have raised their hands, seeing our ability to effect their safe departure.
CNN, though, noted that “Thursday’s numbers — combined with evacuation figures since August 31 — present a far higher count of Americans looking to leave Afghanistan than the administration publicly estimated at the time of the US withdrawal.”
Mattingly added Friday that the State Department has evacuated around 200 people from the country, but that number does not count Americans and legal permanent residents (LPRs) evacuated by other means — or those who left the country of their own volition from somewhere other than Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul.
“These are the numbers of people whose individual departures we directly facilitated. An additional number of U.S. citizens and LPRs have departed on private charters or have independently crossed via a land border,” according to a State Department spokesperson who commented to CNN. “The number of US citizens and LPRs we assist is dynamic as we review manifests, receive reports from colleagues in the field, and assist with departures.”