Federal cabinet ministers will provide another update on what happens now that Canada’s effort to airlift those fleeing Taliban rule out of Afghanistan has come to an emotional end.

Yesterday, Gen. Wayne Eyre, the acting chief of the defence staff, announced that the evacuation operations had finished ahead of the planned U.S. withdrawal from the country on Tuesday — with no more flights planned out of Kabul.

“We wish we could have stayed longer and rescued everyone who was so desperate to leave. That we could not is truly heartbreaking, but the circumstances on the ground rapidly deteriorated. This is an extraordinary humanitarian crisis,” he said.

In recent months, the Taliban, a designated terrorist group in Canada, clawed back control of Afghanistan nearly 20 years after they were ousted in a U.S.-led invasion following the 9/11 attacks.

Their sweep to power has spurred many Afghans to flee, fearing reprisals from the fighters. Among those are Afghans who worked with Canadian troops.

Eyre said Canada has helped to evacuate more than 3,700 people from Kabul, but the government said it knows there  is a number of people, including Canadian citizens, permanent residents, their families, and those seeking refuge in Canada, still in Afghanistan.

It’s unclear how many in total were left behind.

Officials briefing reporters Thursday morning said they received applications representing 8,000 people and that two-thirds of those applications have been processed.

In this image provided by the U.S. Marine Corps, families board a U.S. air force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III on Tuesday during ongoing evacuations at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Sgt. Samuel Ruiz/U.S. Marine Corps/The Associated Press)

But they said they don’t have a tally of how many didn’t make it out. They said not all of the people who applied are necessarily still in Afghanistan and many might have fled to neighbouring countries.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau and Minister of International Development Karina Gould will take questions at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Singh, O’Toole say government delayed response

The Liberals have faced mounting criticism about their response to the crisis.

On Thursday, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole went on the attack, saying the government started too late.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Trudeau knew about the problems with the evacuation effort but didn’t act in a timely way to help.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan stood up for the Liberal government’s record and said it would not ignore the plight of those left behind in Afghanistan. 

“The security situation does not allow it and the Taliban did not allow us to bring everybody out, as we would like to,” he told CBC’s Power & Politics Thursday evening. 

“But we’re not going to stop and we’re going to continue to be able to support them, and especially all the families as well.”

WATCH | The political impact of the Afghanistan crisis:

The political impact of the Afghanistan crisis | At IssueThe At Issue panel discusses how the worsening situation in Afghanistan is playing out on the campaign trail and the political risks for the Liberal incumbent. Plus, the panellists weigh in on what the NDP leader had to say about the possibility of working with the Conservatives. 15:45


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