U.S. to begin housing Afghan refugees at Virginia military base

Source: Politico | July 19, 2021 | Andrew Desiderio

Interpreters and others who aided the U.S. fear for their lives as the Taliban make gains.

Afghan nationals who aided the U.S. war effort and their families will be temporarily housed at a U.S. Army base about 140 miles south of Washington while they await final approval of their visas, the State Department confirmed Monday.

The first round of applicants will be taken to Fort Lee, Va., according to a congressional official who viewed a National Security Council notification sent to Capitol Hill earlier Monday. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the base will serve as “the initial relocation site for the pool of applicants who are closest to completing special immigrant processing.”

The news comes as the administration has also been considering housing the applicants outside of Afghanistan before they come to the U.S. Many of the Afghan allies, who served as interpreters and translators for the U.S., are in danger amid the U.S. withdrawal from the country and rapid gains by the Taliban. Many fear retribution from the Taliban for their roles in helping the U.S. military during its nearly 20-year operation in Afghanistan.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Fort Lee will briefly host up to 2,500 applicants and their families who have completed the security vetting process. While at Fort Lee, Kirby added, they will be able “to safely complete the final steps” of the process, including final medical screenings and other paperwork. Kirby added that the Defense Department is looking at potentially housing some of the 2,500 at separate military installations, but declined to share additional details.


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