WASHINGTON — Yesterday, the last group of Afghan nationals temporarily housed at Fort Bliss, Texas as part of Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) departed the base. Fort Bliss is the third of eight Department of Defense (DOD) installations supporting the resettlement of Afghan nationals that are also known as “safe havens” to complete operations. To date, more than 52,000 Afghan evacuees have been resettled in communities across the country. These resettlement efforts are led by the Department of State in close coordination with more than 290 local resettlement affiliates.
“The end of operations at Fort Bliss marks another important step in our mission to safely and successfully resettle our Afghan allies. We are thankful for the partnership the local communities have forged with our teams and their support for this historic effort,” said Robert J. Fenton, Jr., Senior Response Official for Operation Allies Welcome. “We have made incredible progress over the last four months thanks to the dedication of our workforce and the backing Operation Allies Welcome has received from veterans, faith groups, non-governmental organizations, and Americans across the country. This is truly a whole-of-society effort to support the people who supported our Nation over the last twenty years.”
DOD continues to provide temporary housing facilities for the remaining approximately 22,500 vulnerable Afghans who are in the process of completing their resettlement while at the following five military installations: Camp Atterbury, Indiana; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico; Fort Pickett, Virginia; and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. While on these installations, Afghan evacuees have access to a range of services, including medical care and resettlement services, and they can apply for work authorization.
“I am incredibly proud of the military men and women of Task Force Bliss and the entire interagency team who enabled the resettlement of approximately 11,400 Afghan evacuees,” said Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command. “Over the past four months, our service members at this and other military installations provided essential support to Operation Allies Welcome for this important mission, ensuring Afghan nationals had what was needed while they completed resettlement requirements and prepared to transition to their new communities across America. As Task Force Bliss concludes its support, the service members and the entire team should take pride in the professionalism, selflessness, and empathy they demonstrated as they carried out this incredibly complex endeavor.”
As of December 31, the U.S. has welcomed more than 75,000 Afghans to the United States through Operation Allies Welcome, providing them with support and assistance as they begin their new lives in America – and we are prepared to welcome additional qualifying Afghans over the coming weeks and months. Prior to entering the United States, Afghan evacuees must successfully complete a rigorous, multi-layered screening and vetting process that includes biometric and biographic screenings conducted by intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals from multiple federal agencies. Afghan evacuees also receive critical vaccinations – which include measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), varicella, polio, COVID-19, and others – as a condition of their humanitarian parole. All OAW arrivals are tested for COVID-19.
Those who are interested in supporting the resettlement of vulnerable Afghans can go to www.welcome.us to learn more about how to get involved. Welcome.US is a national non-profit initiative to welcome and support Afghan nationals as they rebuild their lives in communities across America. Groups of individuals and community organizations can also apply to form a sponsor circle to directly support arriving Afghan evacuees. For more information on the Sponsor Circle Program and to learn how to apply to form a sponsor circle, visit www.sponsorcircles.org.