At the end of August this year, the U.S. military announced and began its withdrawal of troops out of Afghanistan after a 20 year mission. Around 234 Americans have been aided to leave the country that is now being taken over fully by the Islamist terrorist group Taliban, and returned to the U.S. However, there seems to be a large discrepancy in the exact number of Americans still remaining in Afghanistan, who would like to return. According to the new numbers of the Biden administration, there are more than originally estimated.
Originally, the Secretary of State referred to the number lying between 100 and 200 Americans, while the Biden administration recently reported to Congress that there were more than 300 Americans remaining in Afghanistan. Out of these 300, 176 Americans seek help to return to the U.S. The State Department is currently in contact with 363 Americans to be exact, as reported in a Thursday briefing with Congress.
The Biden administration has been criticized for its slow response to pulling out troops and Americans from Afghanistan. More critique now comes from the Senate. Senator Ben Sasse condemns the administration for its lack of transparency regarding the exact number of citizens stuck in Afghanistan. Sasse finds fault with the number of Americans suddenly jumping from 100 to over 300 in a short period of time, after consistently reporting the initial lower number for weeks. More and more it is criticized that the U.S. has failed its people by abandoning its citizens in a time of need, as portrayed in this dire situation.
The U.S. State Department’s spokesperson Ned Price defends the changing numbers, naming the “proven ability” of the U.S. getting its citizens safely out of the terrorist-led country and back home, has only spiked the desire of the remaining Americans there to flee. Mr. Price also made a point to mention that not all of the Americans that the State Department is in contact with, wish to leave. Some have yet to make that decision. Besides the 234 Americans, who were aided to leave Afghanistan, 144 green card holders were also helped.
Not taken into consideration in the new numbers are those who have already fled Afghanistan without any involvement of the U.S. However, all of these numbers don’t add up. If several hundred Americans have already been brought back, and there are an estimated hundred who have been able to return without any help, then according to the original 100-200 Americans that wanted to leave Afghanistan should already all be accounted for. However, with the new numbers and the remaining roughly 200 citizens looking to flee, the actual number of Americans seeking help would have had to be around 500.
More pressingly, there are thousands of Afghans who had supported the U.S. during its mission as translators and interpreters for example, whose lives are at risk, and are desperate to seek refuge in the U.S.