The US has evacuated and facilitated the shifting of approximately 109,200 people from the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul since August 14, the White House has said. It also said that the US evacuated approximately 4,200 people in 12 hours on Friday, following the deadly suicide attack near the Kabul airport on Thursday.
“This is the result of 12 US military flights (9 C-17s and 3 C-130s) which carried approximately 2,100 evacuees, and 29 coalition flights which carried approximately 2,100 people,” the White House said in its latest update of the evacuation figures on Friday.
“Since August 14, the US has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of approximately 109,200 people. Since the end of July, we have re-located approximately 114,800 people,” it said.
Meanwhile, Senator Roger Marshall led Representatives Jimmy Panetta and Mike Gallagher in sending a bipartisan, bicameral letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to safely evacuate American citizens, Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants and other at-risk populations, including women and children, from Afghanistan.
“We urge you to provide transparency regarding how the administration will safeguard the approximately 1,500 American citizens still remaining in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, SIV applicants, and other at-risk populations,” they said.
The lawmakers said the US military should commit to responding with overwhelming force to continued attacks on or around the Kabul airport, any attack on American citizens attempting to evacuate or any attempt to hold them hostage.
“The administration must keep its commitment to our Afghan allies who risked their lives supporting the US or NATO campaigns by evacuating remaining SIV applicants,” they said.
The lawmakers said the Biden administration must ensure that the US military is prepared and committed to holding Hamid Karzai International Airport until the evacuation mission is complete.
In a separate letter, Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, joined 28 other lawmakers in urging the Biden administration to expedite efforts to evacuate Afghans at risk as the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates.
In their letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, they specifically pushed for the administration to explore the use of parole to speed up entry for Afghans with already approved visa petitions.
“As the situation on the ground in Afghanistan becomes more dangerous, thousands of Afghans are desperately seeking to leave the country to avoid possible persecution.
“We fully support efforts to provide humanitarian protection to those Afghan nationals in need. However, we write to draw your attention to the possibility that there are many nationals from Afghanistan in the family and employment-based immigration system for whom a visa is not yet available due to visa caps in immigration law,” wrote Bennet and his colleagues.