Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau waits for a virtual meeting to begin with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Ottawa, Friday, February 26, 2021. Garneau says an estimated 1,250 Canadian citizens, permanent residents and family members are still in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of all U.S. troops on Monday.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

More than 1,200 people with links to Canada still in Afghanistan: Garneau

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau says an estimated 1,250 Canadian citizens, permanent residents and family members are still in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of all U.S. troops on Monday.

Garneau revealed the figure during a news conference this morning in which he and Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced that Canada has agreed to accept 5,000 Afghans evacuated by the U.S. to camps outside Afghanistan.

Garneau says Canada and other allies are pushing the Taliban to allow anyone with valid travel documents to leave Afghanistan, with hopes the Kabul airport will soon reopen under civilian control.

Garneau and Mendicino meanwhile, faced pointed questions about what the government is doing to help hundreds of former Afghan interpreters who previously helped Canada and are now stranded in the country with their families.

Mendicino defended the government’s response to date and said Canadian immigration officials are continuing to process applications as quickly as possible in the hopes people will be able to leave.

Garneau says people are being advised against making the risky trip to the border with Pakistan because of the security situation, but efforts are underway to help anyone who does manage to get out of Afghanistan.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2021.