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Nearly 1,300 people with ties to Canada still in Afghanistan two weeks after U.S. pulled out

Global News logo Global News 2021-09-14 Abigail Bimman
A C-17 Globemaster takes off as Taliban fighters secure the outer perimeter, alongside the American controlled side of of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021. © Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images A C-17 Globemaster takes off as Taliban fighters secure the outer perimeter, alongside the American controlled side of of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021.

Two weeks after Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said 1,250 people with ties to Canada remain in Afghanistan, a government source puts the current number even higher, at about 1,280.

A source speaking on background breaks that down to include about 440 Canadian citizens, 260 permanent residents and about 580 family members, which together represent about 240 family groupings.

This information comes the day after Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said in an interview with Global BC “We got all Canadians out.”

Read more: Refugees from Afghanistan begin to arrive in Edmonton and Calgary

Global News asked Trudeau for clarification about that comment at a news conference Tuesday morning in Richmond, B.C.

Trudeau clarified he had actually been referring to “diplomatic and consular staff directly.”

“We know there are still many Canadians in Afghanistan…We're working with our allies and partners like the Qataris to get them out on flights from Kabul or even working with neighbouring partners like Pakistan to be able to get Canadians out of Afghanistan as well,” said Trudeau.

He stressed the government will continue to work to get all Canadians out, as well as welcome a total of 40,000 Afghan refugees to Canada.


Video: Afghanistan crisis: Canada ends evacuation efforts, following departure of roughly 3,700 people during operations (Global News)

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He declined to provide any specifics about how many Canadians were left behind, or about any future flights.

Video: Afghanistan crisis: White House ‘continues to press Taliban’ to allow charter flights to leave country

Later on Tuesday, Global Affairs Canada told Global News that as of Monday, 942 Canadian citizens, permanent residents of family members have left Afghanistan. That number includes 441 citizens, 147 permanent residents and 354 family members.

“We will not stop before we evacuate remaining Canadian citizens, permanent residents and their families and the vulnerable Afghans who supported our work in Afghanistan,” wrote spokesperson Christelle Chartrand.

Since U.S. and foreign forces left Afghanistan on August 31, two flights have departed Kabul with Canadians on board. One carrying 200 foreigners, including 43 Canadians, flew from Kabul to Doha Sept. 9. A second flight organized by Qatar carrying 10 Canadians departed Sept. 10.

Read more: ‘Holding them hostage’: Taliban not letting planes of evacuees take off, U.S. official says

That day, a government source told Global News there were still 1,290 people with ties to Canada left in the country.

The numbers are expected to fluctuate as enrollment in the Registration of Canadians Abroad program is voluntary.

Those two flights represented the first large-scale departure since August 31.

Since the Taliban regained control of the country on August 15, Canada helped 3,700 people get out, while the U.S. and its allies helped evacuate more than 123,000 in two weeks.

The Liberal government has been criticized for its speed getting people out. The topic of Afghanistan is being featured heavily for the first couple of weeks of the federal election campaign, and continues to come up on the trail.

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