Almost 24,000 Afghans have entered US since Kabul airlift began

Afghan refugees displaced from their homes due to the Taliban takeover arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Va., on Monday, August 30, 2021.
Greg Nash

Almost 24,000 Afghans have entered the U.S. since the Kabul airlift began, the State Department said Wednesday after previously declining to offer specific figures on immigration linked to the evacuation from Afghanistan.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters that a total of 31,107 evacuees arrived in the U.S. between Aug. 17 and Aug. 31. Of those people, 23,876 were “Afghans at risk,” comprising 77 percent of those who have entered the country, Price said.

Price did not give exact details on how many of these Afghans held Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) or other visas. However, he said “many of them” will be SIV holders.

Another 4,446 of those who have entered the country are U.S. citizens, which Price noted was the “vast majority” of the roughly 5,500 citizens who had been evacuated. He added that the remaining individuals now in the U.S. are legal permanent residents.

The numbers are just a fraction of the more than 124,000 people the U.S. and allies evacuated from Afghanistan on 778 flights since the end of July.

Evacuated Afghans are now being housed at eight different military installations throughout the United States, including Fort Lee, Va.; Fort McCoy, Wis.; Fort Bliss, Texas; and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley separately told reporters.

Milley further said there were approximately 20,000 evacuees and seven staging bases in five countries in Central Command, which covers much of the Middle East, and another 23,000 in seven bases in four European countries.

The U.S. officially ended its 20-year conflict in Afghanistan Tuesday, and all U.S. troops have now withdrawn from the country.

The Biden administration says it is continuing to help those who are trying to leave Afghanistan — both Americans and Afghan allies. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that between 100 and 200 Americans remain in the country.

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