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Afghani refugees arrive at a U.S. airport

Afghan evacuees arrive in Indiana, head to Camp Atterbury

Contributed By:The 411 News

Housing is only temporary until permanent homes can be found

The first aircraft with Afghan evacuees arrived in the Hoosier state Thursday night, headed for Camp Atterbury in Edinburg, about 40 miles south of Indianapolis.

Approximately 2,500 Afghans can currently be temporarily housed at Camp Atterbury, one of eight sites across the United States to host the Afghan evacuees, said Jeff Lowry, Public Affairs Office for the Indiana National Guard

The refugees are Afghans with Special Immigrant Visas who served alongside U.S. service members in the Afghan war and their families, as well as individuals who worked with non-governmental organizations at risk after the Taliban takeover of the country.

President Joe Biden said about 50,000 to 60,000 of the 120,000 refugees airlifted from the Kabul Airport in Afghanistan in recent weeks are coming to the U.S. Other countries taking in Afghans are Canada, Germany, Australia, France, Switzerland, Hungary, Austria, Tajiskitan, Uganda, and North Macedonia.

Camp Atterbury joins Fort Pickett, Marine Corps Base Quantico and Fort Lee in Va.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort McCoy, Wis.; Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.; and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in N.J. to provide temporary housing and support for up to 50,000 Afghans.

The naming of Camp Atterbury as a refugee center was only announced Tuesday. Gov. Eric Holcomb and Brigadier General Dale Lyles, Adjutant General of the Indiana National Guard held a press conference the next day, saying the first 1,000 refugees could arrive before the end of this week.

Lyles said the refugees were deeply vetted before they got on the plane in Kabul and are currently getting vetted in Europe and the Middle East through multiple agencies, including Homeland Security, the FBI and more.

Each will be vetted again before flying to the U.S., and again after reaching Camp Atterbury. At the camp they’ll be screened medically, then held for 14 days to determine medical, visa and credential status to decide when they can leave the camp.

Lyles said they know the refugees are not a threat to the community because every person at the camp is known to the government and the camp is in close communication with local law enforcement. Holcomb said he welcomes the men, women and children who sacrificed so much.

Lyles said 1,800 soldiers, including medical teams, are coming to Camp Atterbury to help sustain evacuees. Holcomb and Lyles said they didn’t want to pressure the already stretched local hospitals, and they won’t be. The camp will receive medical packages from the Fort Hood Battalion and Fort Knox.

Lyles said evacuees will get three COVID-19 tests -- one before departure, a second at point of entry in Philadelphia and a third upon arriving at the camp. If they have symptoms when they arrive in Indiana, they’ll be tested again and treated.

Some refugees will be able to leave the camp after 14 days with the Special Immigrant Visa. The priority 1 and priority 2 visas require more vetting to decide when they can leave the camp.

The work of finding permanent homes in the U.S. falls on the shoulders of nonprofit and faith-based organizations designated by the Dept. of State.

"As Hoosiers, we are proud to do our part and provide a temporary home for Afghan evacuees who have supported this nation," Gov. Eric J. Holcomb said. "Our federal partners are taking necessary and appropriate steps to establish that there is a smooth process to allow these men, women and children to quickly find their permanent home across the United States. I have faith in the Indiana National Guard's ability to support this federal mission."

Story Posted:09/03/2021

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