How many Americans were on the first international flight from Afghanistan since US withdrawal?
The first flight out of Kabul since the end of the US military mission took place on Thursday, including American residents in the 200 passengers.
Ten days since the final US withdrawal, international flights have resumed from Kabul airport. The flight, of more than 200 people, included a sizeable portion of US citizens and Afghans eligible to come to America. Ten US citizens and 11 green-card holders made Thursday’s flight, State Department spokesman Ned Price said. More are expected in the coming days and weeks.
There had been fears of the Taliban preventing flights to leave Kabul, as mooted by Republicans earlier in the week. Although the flights were delayed for a significant amount of time, the resumption of flights points to an allowance by the Taliban for letting people leave the country.
The U.S. confirms that a Qatar Airways flight took off from the Kabul airport today with U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and has landed in Qatar. "Today’s safe flight is the result of careful and hard diplomacy and engagement." pic.twitter.com/krJ0hggUxV— Josh Wingrove (@josh_wingrove) September 9, 2021
There still remains around 100 Americans still in the country, and the state department says they are doing all they can diplomatically to get them out of Afghanistan.
How many Americans are still in Afghanistan?
It’s estimated that there are less than 200 Americans remaining in Afghanistan, and it’s “likely closer to 100,” according to Secretary Blinken. He said that they face a “painful choice” and many are dual citizens “with deep roots and extended family” in the country. The State Department will be “trying to determine whether they wanted to leave.”
We are gratified to confirm that a charter flight with U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) departed Kabul today. Today’s safe departure is the result of careful and challenging diplomatic engagement.— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) September 9, 2021
However, American green-card holders number in the hundreds, but it is unknown whether they will be able to escape the clutches of the Taliban.
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What's the plan to get them out?
The American plan hinges upon support from the Qatari government. The gulf nation operated the latest flight to Doha and, from there, subsequent flights can take people to America. In an interview with CNN, Biden's chief of staff Ron Klain said the government would be "looking to get Americans on those flights." Qatar and Turkey helped rebuild the airport after it had been damaged in the fighting.
Qatari envoy Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani said another 200 passengers will leave Afghanistan on Friday.
The hope of support from the Qatari government has not gone down well with sections of American society, who are unhappy that American lives could be at risk with no proper plan, rather than hope, to help them.
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