A senior State Department official said Monday that roughly 100 U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents were ready to leave Kabul, Afghanistan, The Hill reported.
The exact number of people waiting to be evacuated was not known because it changes every day, the official told The Hill. Precisely when the group will leave also was not specified.
“The highest priority remains helping the U.S. citizens who wish to leave the country now to do so,” the official said.
The administration will continue to support the departure of any other Americans in Afghanistan “whether they’re people who have just come to our attention, whether they are people we have been talking to and in touch with on a periodic basis who change their mind,” the official said.
“We’re also going to continue working closely with other governments and with a range of outside advocates to support Afghans wanting to leave the country.”
The State Department has encouraged the Taliban to reopen the Kabul airport to commercial traffic and to allow safe passage for U.S. citizens, legal residents, and at-risk Afghans seeking to leave the country, The Hill said.
“Many people continue to work this problem all day, every day, in pretty much every time zone,” the official said.
“In all of our interactions and communications with the Taliban, whether its directly or indirectly, we continue to stress one of our top priorities … is freedom of movement and safe passage for our citizens, our legal residents, and for a range of Afghans.”
The official said the administration was constantly reaching out to U.S. citizens believed to be in Afghanistan “to see if they’re ready to leave.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Friday that 85 U.S. citizens and 79 lawful permanent residents had departed Afghanistan with U.S. assistance since President Joe Biden’s troops withdrawal was completed on Aug. 30.
Private charters with U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents also have departed Afghanistan in the last month. Those flights go to third countries and don’t get direct support from the State Department.
Flights of Afghan refugees were paused earlier this month after four people were diagnosed with measles after they arrived in the U.S.
The senior State Department official told The Hill that the measles outbreak was “a huge challenge,” and that the government was working to prevent the original outbreak from becoming a larger health risk.