On Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan warned Americans “to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time.”
The Embassy stated:
Because of security threats outside the gates of Kabul airport, we are advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so.
U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately.
Actions to take:
Be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially in large crowds.
Follow the instructions of local authorities including movement restrictions related to curfews.
Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed on Wednesday that the number of Americans still trapped in Afghanistan who wanted to leave numbered roughly 1,500, saying:
Many of you have asked how many U.S. citizens remain in Afghanistan who want to leave the country. Based on our analysis, starting on August 14 when our evacuation operations began, there was then a population of as many as 6,000 American citizens in Afghanistan who wanted to leave.
Over the last 10 days, roughly 4,500 of these Americans have been safely evacuated along with immediate family members. Over the past 24 hours, we’ve been in direct contact with approximately 500 additional Americans and provided specific instructions on how to get to the airport safely. We will update you regularly on our progress in getting these 500 American citizens out of Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, a group of families from the Cajon Valley Union School District in California are stuck in Afghanistan. According to Michael Serban, Director of Family and Community Engagement, one family of parents with six children got back to the United States but at least 18 students from CVUSD with five other families are still in Afghanistan.
“Most of the families came to the United States on a special immigrant visa after having worked for the U.S. government or U.S. military in Afghanistan, officials said,” NBC Boston reported, pointing out that Cajon Valley Union School District Superintendent David Miyashiro “added that the families are particularly scared because of the upcoming Aug. 31 deadline for the United States to end its withdrawal.”
“The children range from preschoolers to high school students. Some have witnessed shootings and other violence in and around the Kabul airport in recent days, said Fraidoon Hassemi, the district’s community liaison,” NBC Boston noted.
Congressman Darrell Issa told NBC Boston, “Initially it was three families, then six families… and it continues to grow. So, it’s now dozens of people from our region.”
On Wednesday, a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki regarding the Los Angeles Times report about the El Cajon families, saying, “The LA Times has a story saying that a group of students and their parents are in Afghanistan. Do you have any more information on that or is that Or is that a — is that a true story?”
“I do not. Who have recently traveled into Afghanistan?” Psaki responded, adding, “I know, as our secretary of state just noted, when he went through a a thorough summary of American citizens and our contacts and our focus over the last several days, he gave an update. I am happy to take their information if there is something more detailed to have.”
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