President Joe Biden will address the nation at 4 p.m. EDT on Sunday with updates on the evacuation from Afghanistan and the impact of Hurricane Henri.
Biden received a briefing from his national security team on Saturday “to hear intelligence, security, and diplomatic updates on the evolving situation in Afghanistan,” the White House said in a guidance email sent to reporters.
On Saturday, the president spoke to the leaders of Abu Dhabi and Spain to thank them for assisting the evacuation efforts. Biden thanked Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain for temporarily housing Afghans bound for the United States at military bases in Rota and Morón.
So far, 13 countries have agreed to host at-risk Afghans at least temporarily, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. Another 12 have agreed to serve as transit points for evacuees, including Americans and others.
The Pentagon said on Saturday that 17,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan over the course of one week. Just 2,500 of the total were Americans, according to Army Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, Joint Chiefs of Staff deputy director for regional operations. Estimates for the number of Americans in Afghanistan range from 10,000 to 15,000.
The Biden administration was considering calling on U.S. commercial airlines to provide planes and crews to assist in transporting Afghan refugees once they were evacuated from their country by military aircraft. Under the voluntary Civil Reserve Air Fleet program, civilian airlines add to military aircraft capability during a crisis related to national defense.
The U.S. Transportation Command said Saturday it had issued a warning order to U.S. carriers Friday night on the possible activation of the program. If called upon, commercial airlines would transport evacuees from way stations outside Afghanistan to another country or from Virginia’s Dulles International Airport to U.S. military bases.
The president previously addressed the nation on the Afghanistan situation on Friday.
Since then, potential ISIS terrorist threats against Americans in Afghanistan have forced the U.S. military to develop new ways to get evacuees to the airport in Kabul.
The changes come as the U.S. Embassy issued a new security warning Saturday telling citizens not to travel to Kabul airport without individual instruction from a U.S. government representative. Officials declined to provide more specifics about the ISIS threat but described it as significant.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.