September 18, 2021

U.S. Struggles to Count Its Citizens in Afghanistan as Biden Weighs Withdrawal Delay


With logistics and conditions at the Kabul international airport growing more dire, the Biden administration is discussing with allies a potential extension of an Aug. 31 deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan as they race to evacuate thousands of people in the next eight days.

Compounding the problem are the challenges borne of the more rapid than expected Taliban takeover. The State Department doesn’t know exactly how many Americans are left on the ground, although some have estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 were there when the evacuations began, several U.S. officials said.

The U.S. in recent days has emphasized its intention to prioritize the evacuation of American citizens and green-card holders, raising fears over the fate of thousands of Afghans who qualify for special immigrant visas.

President Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday that the exact number had been hard to assess because many Americans didn’t register with the embassy when they arrived in Afghanistan, and many didn’t deregister when they left.

“Now, it’s our responsibility to find them,” Mr. Sullivan said.



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