UPDATED 6:48 PM PT – Saturday, September 11, 2021
According to officials, roughly 10,000 Afghan evacuees are being housed at Texas military base Fort Bliss. In just 15 days the base was transformed into a temporary refugee village providing services like medical care, catering and transportation.
Those staying at the base will be receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and will undergo medical and security checks before being allowed to resettle in the U.S.
“Our goal here on Fort Bliss is to ensure the safety of the folks who are under our care and to as expeditiously process them and allow them to move on to the cities where they can begin their lives in the U.S.,” said Federal Coordinator Erik P. Breitzke.
The Biden administration provided the first public look into the fort earlier this week where refugees could be seen waiting in long lines to get settled into the village. The Pentagon said this operation will house up to 50,000 Afghan evacuees across seven military bases in the U.S. and will provide housing for up to 22,000 Afghans applying for Special Immigrant Visas.
U.S. Northern Command continues to support @DHSgov and @StateDept in providing temporary housing, sustainment, and support inside the United States for up to 50,000 Afghan evacuees. #OperationAlliesWelcome@TheJointStaff @USArmyNorth @DeptofDefense pic.twitter.com/vxNhrQ4LEI
— U.S. Northern Command (@USNorthernCmd) September 1, 2021
The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State described the operation as “historic and unprecedented.”
“Everyone who’s here with us has endured a harrowing journey and they’re now faced with the very real challenges of acclimating to life in the United States. We’ve been delighted to be a part of welcoming these individuals,” said Senior U.S. State Department Official Liz Gracon.
Senior Commander of Fort Bliss Maj. Sean C. Bernabe recalled the first day the evacuees arrived at Fort Bliss on Aug. 21 as an emotional experience for everyone.
“It was an emotional event. I was there and I can confirm there was not a dry eye in the room, very emotional event as we received that first flight,” said the senior commander.
No one staying at the village has been released yet and the U.S. expects to reach full capacity of evacuees by Sept. 15.