Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the State Department believes likely under 1,500 Americans are still actively seeking to get out of Afghanistan.
Blinken did not detail the working number the State Department has been using for total Americans in Afghanistan. A source with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed Wednesday to the Daily Caller that this working number is still sitting at 12,000 people. With around 4,500 Americans evacuated so far “and likely more” according to Blinken, the number of total U.S. citizens in Afghanistan may be higher than the number known to be trying to get out, the source pointed out. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Internal Numbers Show White House Poised To Leave Several Thousand Americans Behind Enemy Lines In Afghanistan)
The secretary of state explained that the State Department estimated around 6,000 Americans wanted to leave Afghanistan as of Aug. 14. Of those, roughly 4,500 have already been evacuated, according to Blinken. Five hundred individuals still in the country have received instructions on how to leave, and the agency is working to contact the other group of 1,000 people, Blinken explained.
Blinken said of the 1,000 people, the number of people needing evacuation is probably “lower.”
“Over the past 24 hours we’ve been in direct contact with approximately 500 additional Americans and provided specific instructions on how to get to the airport safely,” Blinken said. “For the remaining roughly 1,000 contacts that we had who may be Americans seeking to leave Afghanistan, we’re aggressively reaching out to them multiple times a day through multiple channels of communication,” Blinken said.
“The number of Americans actively seeking to leave Afghanistan is lower, likely significantly lower,” Blinken added.
Prior to Blinken’s remarks, the Senate reportedly received a number much higher than what Blinken told reporters. Numerous reports noted that the briefer said around 4,100 American remain in Afghanistan during a call with members of the Senate. Shortly after these reports, the State Department said the briefer misspoke on the call. He did not explain where this 4,100 number came from.
“Senate sources are NOT happy they were given inaccurate information,” Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich tweeted. “One source: ‘It’s literally the number one thing everyone wants right now. Unbelievable.'”
Blinken assured viewers that those who want to leave the country after the withdrawal date “should be able to do so,” though he didn’t detail specifically what the U.S. plans to do to help these Americans. He also said that the evacuation effort for Americans and Afghan allies “will continue every day past August 31,” but again didn’t detail how the U.S. will help with this after leaving the country.
“Our expectation, the expectation of the international community, is that people who want to leave Afghanistan after the US Military departs should be able to do so,” he said.