The Biden administration on Friday supplied the primary public look inside a US navy base the place Afghans airlifted out of Afghanistan are being screened, amid questions on how the federal government is caring for the refugees and vetting them.
“Each Afghan who’s right here with us has endured a harrowing journey and they’re now confronted with the very actual challenges of acclimating with life in america,” Liz Gracon, a senior State Division official, instructed reporters.
The three-hour tour at Fort Bliss Military base in El Paso, Texas, was the primary time the media has been granted broad entry to one of many eight U.S. navy installations housing Afghans.
Besides, reporters, together with these with The Related Press, weren’t allowed to speak with any evacuees or spend various minutes in areas the place they had been gathered, with navy officers citing “privateness issues.”
Practically 10,000 Afghan evacuees are staying on the base whereas they endure medical and safety checks earlier than being resettled in america. The operation was described by officers on the Division of Homeland Safety and Division of State as a “historic” and “unprecedented” effort to facilitate the relocation of an enormous variety of refugees in lower than a month’s time.
On Friday, Afghan youngsters with soccer balls and basketballs performed outdoors massive white tents. Households walked down a dust driveway with stacks of plastic meals containers piled beneath their chins and Coca-Cola cans beneath their arms. One younger lady, nonetheless carrying soiled clothes, cried in the midst of the street after her meals spilled and troopers tried to assist her. Contained in the containers, which refugees had spent round quarter-hour in line for within the blistering solar, had been conventional Afghan meals of basmati rice and hearty stew.
The US authorities spent two weeks constructing what it calls a village to deal with the Afghans on the bottom. It’s a sprawling space with scores of air-conditioned tents used as dormitories and eating halls on scrubby grime tons, a panorama that in some methods resembled components of the homeland they fled.