WASHINGTON, D.C. – AUGUST 22: Joe Biden speaks in the Roosevelt Room on the continuing situation in Afghanistan and the developments of Hurricane Henri at the White House. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
UPDATED 5:36 PM PT – Sunday, August 21, 2021
Joe Biden confirmed about 11,000 people have been evacuated out of Kabul in less than 36 hours. Biden addressed the nation from the White House on Sunday where he discussed deadly flooding incidents in Tennessee, as well as Tropical Storm Henri and the Afghanistan withdrawal.
He said the director of FEMA briefed him on the weather events, giving his condolences to all of those affected. The Democrat said they’ve been closely monitoring the storm and are making all necessary preparation and response efforts.
“I talked with the administrator and each of the governors in the key states most likely to be affected,” said Biden. “I urged them to take advantage of the assistance FEMA can offer in advance and committed to do everything we can to support their communities through the storm and afterwards.”
Turning to the crisis in Afghanistan, Biden said he met with his national security team over the weekend, adding evacuations of Americans, NATO allies and Afghan allies would be hard and painful. He noted his administration is in the process of discussing whether to extend the Aug. 31 exit deadline, but hopes not to.
Biden added the U.S. has gotten thousands of people out of the country and there’s still a long way to go, confirming as of Sunday morning more than 33,000 people had been evacuated since July.
“We’re executing a plan to move groups of these Americans to safety and to safely and effectively move them through the airport compound,” claimed Biden. “Any American who wants to get home, will get home.”
He assured planes flying from Kabul were not landing directly in the U.S., but rather to U.S. bases and processing centers set up in other countries. “We are conducting thorough scrutiny screening for everyone who is not a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident. Once screened and cleared, we will welcome these Afghans who helped us in the war effort over the last several years, to their new home in America.”
In the meantime, Biden defended his withdrawal, saying ending the war was the “logical, rational and right decision to make.”