The United States is aware of approximately 100 American citizens and lawful permanent residents who remain stranded in Afghanistan and wish to leave nearly a month after the Biden administration withdrew all U.S. military personnel on Aug. 31, a senior State Department official said on Monday.
“Our highest priority in Afghanistan, of course, remains helping those American citizens who wish to leave the country now to do so,” the official said, according to a Reuters report.
In August, more than 120,000 people were airlifted from Afghanistan. The vast majority of those evacuated were Afghan refugees.
The official noted that since Aug. 31, 85 Americans and 79 legal permanent residents have left Afghanistan on various flights.
Some Americans in the country wanted to bring additional extended family members with them without the travel documents required to enter the U.S.
Officials have since helped American citizens’ immediate family members who did not have documentation, but still would not do so for extended family.
“I entirely understand how painful that choice may be for them, but for matters of law and policy, up to this point, we have not extended support for expedited departure and resettlement in the U.S. for extended family members of U.S. citizens,” the State Department official said.
Not everyone agrees the State Department is doing all it can to rescue Americans trapped in Afghanistan.
North Carolina Republican Rep. Greg Murphy appeared on “Fox & Friends First” on Monday to describe the work his office is doing to rescue Americans and U.S. allies.
— Fox & Friends First (@FoxFriendsFirst) September 27, 2021
Murphy also appeared on Fox News last week to discuss the issue and criticized the response of the State Department.
“Our State Department has been deplorable. Their response — if they do call back — has been utterly deplorable,” Murphy said.
“We don’t have an embassy there. We did, prior to our full departure, [have] things like Operation Pineapple that use former vets, special ops — those types of individuals to evacuate people.”
Murphy’s office is working to help some 740 individuals escape Afghanistan, according to Fox News.
Instead of help from the State Department, Murphy’s office has used encrypted messaging apps like Signal and WhatsApp to communicate with people within Afghanistan.
Murphy also cosponsored a bipartisan bill on Aug. 31 to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 13 U.S. service members who were killed in Afghanistan last week.
“As we grieve the loss of Sgt. Nicole Gee and all of the beloved U.S. service members who gave their lives in service to our nation, I am committed to celebrating the life and legacy of these incredible men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Murphy said in a statement.
“Awarding these outstanding individuals and their families with our highest Congressional honor is the least we can do to honor their memory. Their bravery, selflessness, and courage will never be forgotten. It is with a heavy heart in the wake of this tragedy that I urge Speaker Pelosi to bring this bipartisan bill to the floor as quickly as possible.”
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