Nearly 200 Americans want to leave Afghanistan, State Department tells Congress

Nearly 200 Americans want to leave Afghanistan, State Department tells Congress
© Getty Images

The Biden administration told Congress that more than 300 U.S. citizens are still in Afghanistan, 176 of whom want to leave.

In a Thursday briefing, the State Department told congressional staff that it is in touch with 363 American citizens, a call first reported by CNN.

The new numbers reveal more Americans want to get out of Afghanistan than the administration publicly estimated as U.S. forces were withdrawing from the country.

ADVERTISEMENT

On Aug. 30, a day before the U.S. military ended its mission in the country, Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenBiden holds call with European leaders to talk Russia Five things to know about Russia's troop buildup near Ukraine  Malala Yousafzai urges US to take action for Afghan women and girls MORE said only “a small number of Americans, under 200 and likely closer to 100,” remained in Afghanistan and wanted to leave. 

Days later on Sept. 5, White House chief of staff Ron KlainRon KlainNew variant raises questions about air travel mandates White House scrambles for safety on holiday parties The massive messaging miscues of all the president's men (and women) MORE estimated that around 100 Americans were still waiting to be evacuated

The U.S. government has helped about 234 Americans evacuate since the end of August, but it is not known exactly how many were in the country as U.S. troops left or how many remain. It is difficult to track such a figure as private citizens do not need to declare they are traveling there.

Blinken also said in August that longtime residents of Afghanistan who have American passports were “trying to determine whether or not they wanted to leave.” 

Many such passport holders may later decide to evacuate from the country.

Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - House to vote on Biden social spending bill after McCarthy delay CBO releases cost estimate of Biden plan Real conservatives must make a choice MORE (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on Friday accused the administration of misleading the American public in revealing the new figure.

“For weeks, their official number was ‘about a hundred’ and it magically never changed - as Americans slowly got out the total number never went down. Now they say more than 300 Americans are still in Afghanistan,” Sasse said in a statement. 

Tens of thousands more vulnerable Afghans, including those who aided U.S. forces and contractors in the past 20 years of conflict, also hope to leave the country.