Although it has been months since the United States withdrew all of its troops, the State Department remains in touch with hundreds of Americans that still want to leave Afghanistan and wait for it. However, there are still numbers of U.S. citizens ready for departure now, while others want to stay and are still not prepared to depart. So today, we will inform you how many Americans are in Afghanistan and what is their current status.
James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma, claims President Joe Biden had not lived up to his pledge to leave no American citizen behind. Colin Kahl defended the administration claiming no one was abandoned, and they continue to get people out of Afghanistan. We researched and came up with information regarding this subject we would like to share with you. So without further redo, let us get right into it.
How Many Americans Still Want to Leave Afghanistan?
The exact number of Americans that are making efforts to leave Afghanistan still remains unknown. President Biden claims that the majority of Americans that wanted to leave had already been evacuated, with about 100 to 200 Americans who still intend to leave the country.
Biden also claims that most of the Americans that still want to leave are dual citizens and long-time residents who had earlier decided to stay in Afghanistan due to their family roots in the country. According to public knowledge, 90 percent of Americans who wanted to leave were able to do so.
However, the White House transcript of Biden’s remarks corrected him, indicating that he should have said 98 percent of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were evacuated during Operation Allies Refuge, which started in July 2023. The effort to get more Americans out of the country picked the pace up during mid-August 2023, just before the Taliban completely took over the control of the country.
How Many Americans Were Evacuated From Afghanistan?
Ever since August 14th, 2023, over an 18-day period, the United States military aircraft have evacuated more than 79.000 civilians from Hamid Karzai International Airport. This number includes 6.000 Americans and more than 73.500 third-country nationals and Afghan civilians. The latter category includes special immigrant visas, consular staff, at-risk Afghans, and their families.
In total, the United States and the coalition aircraft combined to evacuate more than 123.000 civilians. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that there are less than 200 Americans the U.S. still needs to get out of the country.
Blinken also stated that it is difficult to provide an exact figure because the government was going through manifests and doing outreach to decide who still requires help getting out of the country. Same as President Biden Said, Blinken mentioned that some of those remaining are dual citizen Americans that are rooted with their families in Afghanistan. These people also weigh whether or not they should stay in the country. Blinken also said that if Afghan American citizen decides to stay and in a week changes his mind that they will help him evacuate.
However, despite Blinken’s and Biden’s assurances that the United States would continue to provide help to the American citizens that wanted to leave Afghanistan, the withdrawal of the US troops before all Americans that wanted to leave was evacuated means that Biden went back on a promise he made in August 2023 on ABC News interview. In this interview, Biden said that US troops would stay beyond August 31 if necessary.
The Evacuation of Afghans Who Worked for the American Government
In the reports released in 2023, it is stated that the United States has evacuated only about 3 percent of Afghans who worked for the American government and applied for special visas. It is estimated that there are 78.000 left behind, according to these reports.
The reports by the nonprofit Association of Wartime Allies stated that the Afghans stuck in Taliban-ruled country are facing increasingly desperate circumstances with seemingly no verifiable path to safety.
About a decade ago, the United States government set up a special immigrant visa, also known as SIV, which is a program that helps resettle Afghans at risk due to their work for the US military. At the time, there were around 81.000 Afghans who applied for this visa.
Even though tens of thousands of Afghans were evacuated in the final days of the US presence, only 3.000 were applicants in the special visa program. State Department claims that the number cited in the report was inaccurate. However, the officials did not provide an alternative estimate of how many Afghans who applied for this special visa were evacuated from Afghanistan.
The Biden administration is yet to release their estimation of how many Afghan special immigrant visa applicants were evacuated from the country. On the other hand, of 76.000 Afghans that arrived in the United States, about half managed to obtain or are eligible for a special immigrant visa, according to State Department.
What Is the Process of Getting a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV)?
The State Department has updated its web portal with pieces of information regarding the SIV program for Afghans. The Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations increased the number of SIVs available by around 8.000, and earlier in 2023, the US government announced that all those who worked at US-based NGOs or media organizations could apply for P2 visas.
James Schwelmein, who is a former World Bank official and served as the junior adviser for the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said that there could be over 100.000 people eligible for the P2 visa. Regardless of the visa type, all the applicants will have to undergo lengthy background checks.
Criticism from Republicans
The Republican party had criticized President Biden for leaving behind some American citizens who wanted to evacuate, and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested that Americans left behind may number in thousands, not hundreds. He was citing a preliminary administration figure that was later reduced significantly after it was vetted.
The bottom line is that there are between 100 and 200 American citizens left in Afghanistan to this day, and it seems that most of them are not willing to depart from the country just yet, mostly due to the fact that their families are rooted there.
The public statements in the United States are encouraging, and they claim that if any of these citizens decide to ask for help and move back to the US, the government will grant all the necessary assistance to do so.