- An American citizen and their family fleeing Afghanistan were helped across the border by the US, according to the Associated Press.
- The group fled the Taliban-controlled country via an “overland” route.
- Biden administration officials say “around 100” Americans remain in Afghanistan after the US pulled out troops.
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The Biden administration confirmed that it helped with an American citizen and their family members escape from Afghanistan to a neighboring country using an “overland route,” according to an Associated Press report on Monday.
The evacuation was the first reported time that a US family has been assisted in their escape across a land border since American military planes last left the country on August 30.
The unnamed official wouldn’t give any specific details of the escape route, including the neighboring country in which the evacuees arrived, to protect its viability for future missions, the AP reported.
American embassy officials met the group at the Afghanistan border. An overland evacuation meant the group would’ve arrived at the border on foot or in a vehicle.
Five countries border Afghanistan including Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and China. The disputed Kashmir region claimed by both India and Pakistan also borders Afghanistan.
America has embassies in all but one of those countries, Iran. Given the tense state of affairs between the US and Iran, it’s likely the overland escape would’ve been carried out to one of the more friendly countries to the US.
A tweet from Rep. Ronny Jackson confirmed that four US citizens from Texas were evacuated, including young children, citing the “first successful ground evacuation since the US left Kabul.”
-Ronny Jackson (@RepRonnyJackson) September 6, 2021
Airlifting additional US citizens out of Afghanistan has proven difficult following the official end of the US’ presence in the country. Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas on Sunday warned of what he called a “hostage” situation at Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport in northern Afghanistan as six planes were prevented from leaving.
“In fact, we have six airplanes at Mazar-i-Sharif Airport, six airplanes, with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now,” McCaul, the Republican leader on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Fox News Sunday.
Also on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain told CNN’s “State of the Union” that “around 100” US citizens remain in Afghanistan and that the Biden administration is in touch with all American citizens that have been identified in the country. “We are going to find ways – the ones that want to leave – to get them out of Afghanistan,” Klain said.
It’s not the first time that the US has had to go to extreme measures to get its citizens out of hostile Middle Eastern and South Asian countries. In 1980, the Central Intelligence Agency working with the Canadian government flew American diplomats using assumed identities out of Iran following the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.
Afghan refugees have been fleeing to their country’s borders in attempts to seek asylum in neighboring countries, with the BBC reporting large masses gathering at Afghanistan-Pakistan border crossings. Pakistan and Iran have declined to accept additional Afghan refugees, the British news outlet reported.
The Taliban flag now flies over the Afghanistan border, including at a crossing near Chaman, Pakistan.
Other Middle Eastern and European countries are taking a hard line on migration across their borders in the wake of the US withdrawal. Turkey is reinforcing its border with Iran using three-meter tall concrete slabs, according to the Guardian, while Greece recently completed a 25-mile (40km) wall on its border with Turkey, according to CNN.
And at the border of the European Union in Poland, soldiers have constructed a makeshift border of barb fencing with neighboring Belarus to stop the rising tide of migrants from countries including Afghanistan and Iraq, according to Reuters.