White House insists Americans are 'not stranded' in Afghanistan as evacuations continue

‘It’s irresponsible to say Americans are stranded. They are not. We are committed to bringing Americans who want to come home, home’

Alex Woodward
New York
Monday 23 August 2021 16:21 EDT

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has refuted characterisations that the administration has “stranded” Americans in Afghanistan during ongoing evacuations from Kabul amid US withdrawal.

“It’s irresponsible to say Americans are stranded. They are not,” she told reporters at the White House on Monday. “We are committed to bringing Americans who want to come home, home.”

US agencies have connected with Americans in Afghanistan through multiple channels, Ms Psaki and national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Fox News reporter Peter Doocy, who has repeatedly goaded White House officials with out-of-context remarks, asked: “‘There are no Americans stranded’ is the White House’s official position on what’s happening in Afghanistan right now?”

“I’m just calling you out for saying we are stranding Americans in Afghanistan when we have been very clear that we are not leaving Americans who want to return home,” she replied. “We are going to bring them home, and I think that’s important for the American people to hear and understand.”

The US has evacuated more than 37,000 people from Afghanistan since 14 August and relocated more than 43,000 people since the end of July, according to the White House.

“We’ve contacted Americans still in Afghanistan by email, by phone, by text to give them specific instructions,” Mr Sullivan told reporters on Monday. “We have developed a method to safely and efficiently transfer groups of American citizens onto the airfield for operational reasons.”

He said the administration does not know how many Americans are waiting to leave, as the US does not have a precise number.

“When Americans have come to Afghanistan over the years, we asked them to register with the embassy,” he said. “Many have left without de-registering. Others never register at all. That is their right, of course, and it’s our responsibility to find them, which we are now doing hour by hour.”

He said the administration has the “wherewithal” to evacuate remaining Americans from Kabul by President Joe Biden’s deadline to withdraw troops by 31 August.

Earlier on Monday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the US goal remains getting “as many people out as fast as possible,” following a 24-hour period beginning on Sunday that saw US military lifting nearly 11,000 people out of Kabul, with 5,000 people on other flights.

“While we’re glad to see the numbers that we got out yesterday, we’re not going to rest on any laurels,” he said.

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