Washington, Aug 20 (AP) Faced with sharp criticism over the current situation in Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden will make a statement on Friday about the difficulties he is facing in evacuating his civilians and allies from there. Biden had earlier blamed the Afghans for America’s failure to drive out allies before the Taliban suddenly took control of Afghanistan. But US officials told the Associated Press (AP) that US diplomats had formally urged several weeks ago that the Biden administration should step up efforts to evacuate people.
Thousands have yet to be evacuated before the US deadline of August 31 to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. However, now the campaign has gained momentum. About 5,700 people, including about 250 Americans, were evacuated from Kabul in 16 C-17 transport planes, a defense official said. In the last two days, around 2,000 people have been evacuated.
Biden will hold a meeting with his national security team regarding the evacuation and is set to address from the White House on Friday afternoon.
In July, more than 20 diplomats at the US embassy in Kabul raised concerns that the evacuation of Afghans working for the US was not progressing fast enough.
Biden has said the chaos that ensued as part of the withdrawal was inevitable as the 20-year war had ended. He said he was following the advice of Afghanistan’s US-backed President Ashraf Ghani who was not in favor of expanding US efforts to evacuate translators working with Americans and other Afghans facing threats.
Biden also said that many Afghan allies facing the threat did not want to leave the country. But refugee groups point to a years-long ‘backlog’ of thousands of Afghans applying for visas that would allow them to seek asylum in the US.
With the Taliban taking control of Kabul, including the outskirts of the airport, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said US citizens have been able to access the airport, but they often face huge crowds at the airport gate.
AP Avinash Pawanesh