DHS: Last Afghan evacuees housed at Fort Pickett resettled

DHS: Last Afghan evacuees housed at Fort Pickett resettled
An Airman from the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group provides medical care for Afghanistan evacuees at a hangar, on August 19, 2021. On Tuesday, the last Afghan evacuees stationed at Virginia’s Fort Pickett were resettled. File Photo by Airman 1st Class Kylie Barrow/U.S. Air Force/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 3 (UPI) — The Biden administration said the last Afghan evacuees being housed at Virginia’s Fort Pickett have been resettled in U.S. communities.

The announcement was made Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security, which said in a statement that the more than 10,300 Afghan refugees who were brought to Fort Pickett have been resettled as part of Operation Allies Welcome.

The mission was kicked off last summer to facilitate the government’s resettlement efforts following its evacuation of tens of thousands of Afghans from the war-torn country amid the United States’ military withdrawal from the nation as it fell to the Taliban.

The evacuation effort saw some 6,000 Americans and 124,000 Afghans airlifted from the country to international partners and the United States. According to Department of Homeland Security data, more than 76,000 Afghans were brought to eight U.S. military bases where they have been provided with resettlement support and assistance.

With the last Afghans to leave Fort Pickett on Tuesday, only two of those eight bases continue to house refugees. Approximately 7,000 Afghans remain at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and at New Jersey’s Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

“We have now helped more than 68,000 Afghan evacuees settle in the United States,” said Robert J. Fenton Jr., senior response official for Operation Allies Welcome. “We continue to work in close partnership with state and local leaders, non-profit organizations and communities across the country, and I would like to thank the federal staff, service members and volunteers who stepped up to support this whole-of-society effort.”

In mid-November, Fort Lee, Va., was the first of the eight bases to conclude its resettlement operations followed by Virginia’s Marine Corps Base Quantico on Dec. 23, Texas’ Fort Bliss on New Year’s Eve and New Mexico’s Holloman Air Force Base and Indiana’s Camp Atterbury on Jan. 26.

The resettlement effort has been conducted by the State Department in coordination with nearly 300 local resettlement affiliates across the country.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., issued a statement of gratitude to those who aided in the effort to resettle the Afghan evacuees housed at military bases in his state.

“The final refugees living at military bases in Virginia have been successfully resettled,” he said. Extending my greatest thanks to all the many individuals and organizations involved. We’ll keep supporting our Afghan allies at a federal level.”

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