At Least 500 Americans Stranded in Afghanistan, Contradicting White House Estimates: Congressman
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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), whose office has been working to evacuate two elderly U.S. citizens from Afghanistan, said that it’s likely about 500 Americans remain stranded in the country, a figure that is at odds with estimates provided by White House officials.
“Unless we continue and get the rest of our American citizens, and all those otherwise eligible out, we won’t have done our job,” Issa told The Associated Press, confirming the number. When including the family members of American citizens, Issa said the number of people could be as high as 1,000.
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) added to the news agency that the Biden administration needs to provide the full number of those left behind in the restive South Asian nation.
“The problem is, it doesn’t include families,” he said. “They’re lowballing the numbers.”
White House chief of staff Ron Klain on Sunday told CNN that he believes around 100 Americans remain inside Afghanistan, while President Joe Biden last week said that about 100 to 200 U.S. citizens remained. The final U.S. military evacuation flight was carried out from the Kabul airport one week ago, officially ending the 20-year-long American involvement in the country.
“We believe it’s around a hundred. We’re in touch with all of them who we’ve identified on a regular basis,” Klain, a top Biden deputy, told CNN. Some U.S. citizens and Afghan nationals, he added, are “coming out” of Afghanistan “by land” travel.
He added that the White House is “continuing to work on efforts to get them out by air as well. We’re going to continue to move those [Special Immigrant Visa holders] out of the country.”
Other than Issa, some veteran-led rescue groups told AP that the estimate that no more than 200 Americans were left behind is too low.
Mike Jason, who runs a rescue operation called Allied Airlift 21, told the news outlet that he believes the figure is far higher, saying it’s also misleading because it doesn’t include family members of Americans trapped there. Alex Plitsas, an Iraq War veteran who is part of a rescue network called Digital Dunkirk, said that in one day, he got calls from six Americans stuck in the country earlier this week and that none registered with the U.S. Embassy.
The White House figure, Plitsas told AP, could be off by hundreds.
“Those names are starting to trickle out now,” said Plitsas, a former intelligence officer in Afghanistan. “I expect that number to rise significantly.”
Before the Afghan government and army full collapsed and the Taliban took over, White House officials estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 Americans were in the country. Biden last week said that more than 120,000 people, including Afghans and Americans, were evacuated from the Kabul airport.
White House to send more than $300 million in aid to Afghanistan despite Taliban control
The White House announced plans Tuesday to send more than $308 million in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan as millions face starvation under the new Taliban government following President Joe Biden’s withdrawal.
The assistance would be given by the United States Agency for International Development through “independent humanitarian organizations” to the Afghan people, National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said.
The administration has been criticized for sending aid to Afghanistan previously. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) warned that it would be “foolish” and asserted that the Taliban “would take the money.”
“This brings total U.S. humanitarian aid in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in the region to nearly $782 million since October 2021, and we remain the single largest donor of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan,” Horne said, adding that the U.S. has also given 4.3 million COVID-19 doses to the Afghan people.
Assistance will “help provide lifesaving protection and shelter, essential health care, winterization assistance, emergency food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene services in response to the growing humanitarian needs exacerbated by COVID-19 and healthcare shortages, drought, malnutrition, and the winter season,” Horne said.
China sent assistance to Afghanistan last month to help the nation prepare for winter and build ties between the Chinese Communist Party and the new jihadist government.
“The United States is committed to supporting the Afghan people and we continue to consider all options available to us,” Horne concluded. “We stand with the people of Afghanistan.”
ARTICLE: Fort Hood soldier found dead behind barracks
The soldier was identified as Spc. Maxwell Hockin, who was assigned to 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. He entered the Army in March 2017 as a combat engineer, Fort Hood officials said Wednesday.
Hockin’s awards and decorations include the Army Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon, officials said.
Hockin had been at the Texas base since July 2017, where he was assigned to the 91st Engineer Battalion.
“The entire Saber family is devastated by the loss of our true teammate and friend Specialist Maxwell Hockin,” Lt. Col. Patrick Sullivan, commander, 91st Engineer Battalion, said in a statement Wednesday. “He had an outstanding work ethic, was a mentor to his peers, and was always willing to help out the team. He will truly be missed. Our thoughts and our prayers are with Maxwell’s family during this difficult time.”
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VIDEOS: How many Americans are still in Afghanistan?
A good question How many American are still in Afghanistan… those who should know don’t.
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