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US resumes Afghan refugee flights after measles shots

There are about 53,000 Afghans currently staying at eight US military bases receiving medical care and other assistance before they settle around the US.

AP Edited by: AP
Washington Published on: October 05, 2021 6:55 IST
us resumes afghan refugee flights
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US resumes Afghan refugee flights after measles shots

Afghan refugees will soon be arriving again in the US after a massive campaign to vaccinate them against measles following a small outbreak that caused a three-week pause in evacuations, officials have said. Authorities have administered the vaccination to about 49,000 evacuees staying temporarily on American military bases as well as to those still at transit points in Europe and the Middle East, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The measles outbreak, detected in 24 people, had put on hold one of the largest refugee resettlement efforts in US history, dubbed Operation Allies Welcome, and stranded about 15,000 at overseas transit points.

“The success of this vaccination campaign demonstrates our commitment to the health and well-being of arriving Afghan evacuees, the personnel assisting this mission, and the American people,” Dr. Pritesh Gandhi, the DHS chief medical officer, said in announcing the completion of the effort.

Everyone coming from Afghanistan in the evacuation is also tested for COVID-19 and about 84 per cent of the refugees in the US and at overseas transit points have now been vaccinated for the virus, officials said.

The US evacuated about 1,20,000 people in the chaotic days following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in August. They were a mix of US citizens, Afghans with legal permanent residency or who were applying for visas and refugee status along with their families.

Testifying before Congress last week, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the US has admitted about 60,000 people from the airlift out of Afghanistan, about 7 per cent of whom are American citizens and about 6 per cent of whom are permanent residents.

About 3 per cent have, along with their families, received the special immigrant visa for people who worked for the US government or its allies during the war as interpreters or in some other capacity.

The rest are a combination of people who are in the process of finalising their special immigrant visas or are considered likely candidates for refugee status because they are human rights activists, journalists or others who are considered particularly vulnerable under Taliban rule or for some other reasons. All undergo security vetting before they arrive in the US.

There are about 53,000 Afghans currently staying at eight US military bases receiving medical care and other assistance before they settle around the US.

Gen. Glen VanHerck, head of US Northern Command, told reporters on Thursday that about 4,000 Afghans at the US bases have completed medical screening and the 21-day quarantine required after receiving the vaccine for measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox that most Americans receive in childhood.

Also Read: Afghanistan: Two Taliban members among four killed in targeted attack in Jalalabad

Also Read: India, US on same page on many issues relating to Afghanistan: Jaishankar

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