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Blumenthal Statement on Humanitarian Planes Grounded in Mazar-e Sharif

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement following reports that several planes carrying American citizens, Legal Permanent Residents, interpreters and other Afghan allies, and their families have been prevented from leaving Mazar-e Sharif airport. Blumenthal and his office have provided critical assistance to help secure safe passage for two of these planes, working with a coalition of volunteers, veterans, and advocates.

“My staff and I have worked night and day to secure the safe passage of two planes waiting in Mazar-e Sharif to take American citizens, at-risk Afghan allies, and their families to safety. My office joined forces in this humanitarian mission with an incredible coalition of advocates - NGOs, former servicemembers, and journalists - to try and evacuate our fellow citizens and Afghan allies. I haven’t yet spoken publicly about these efforts because we worried that heightened attention would only escalate tensions and put these people at even greater risk of being targeted.”

“I have been deeply frustrated, even furious, at our government’s delay and inaction. There will be plenty of time to seek accountability for the inexcusable bureaucratic red tape that stranded so many of our Afghan allies. For now, my singular focus remains getting these planes in the air and safely to our airbase in Doha, where they have already been cleared to land. I expect the White House and State Department to do everything in their power – absolutely everything – to make this happen. These are Americans citizens and Afghans who risked everything for our country. We cannot leave them behind.”