Yesterday, the last group of Afghan nationals temporarily housed at Fort Pickett, Virginia as part of Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) departed the base. Fort Pickett is the sixth of eight Department of Defense (DOD) installations supporting the resettlement of Afghan nationals, also known as “safe havens,” to complete OAW-related operations. To date, more than 68,000 Afghan evacuees have joined new communities across the country. These resettlement efforts are led by the Department of State in close coordination with more than 290 local resettlement affiliates.
“With Fort Pickett completing its Operation Allies Welcome efforts, 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, servicemembers, and volunteers who stepped up to support this whole-of-society effort.”
DOD continues to provide temporary housing facilities for the remaining approximately 7,000 vulnerable Afghans who are in the process of completing their resettlement while at the following two military installations: Fort McCoy, Wisconsin and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. While on these installations, Afghan evacuees have access to a range of services, including medical care and resettlement services, and they can apply for work authorization.
“Task Force Pickett is the sixth of eight task forces on Department of Defense installations here in the U.S. to complete its support to Operation Allies Welcome,” said Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command. “I remain impressed with how our military members and the interagency team at Fort Pickett worked together to enable the resettlement of more than 10,300 Afghan personnel to their new communities here in America,” added VanHerck.
As of February 2, the United States has welcomed more than 76,000 Afghans to the United States through Operation Allies Welcome, providing them with support and assistance as they begin their new lives in America – and we are prepared to continue welcoming additional qualifying Afghans over the coming weeks and months. Prior to entering the United States, Afghan evacuees must successfully complete a rigorous, multi-layered screening and vetting process that includes biometric and biographic screenings conducted by intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals from the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and State; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the National Counterterrorism Center; and other Intelligence Community partners. Afghan evacuees also receive critical vaccinations – which include measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), varicella, polio, and COVID-19 – as a condition of their humanitarian parole. All OAW arrivals are tested for COVID-19.
Those who are interested in supporting the resettlement of vulnerable Afghans can go to www.welcome.us to learn more about how to get involved. Welcome.US is a national non-profit initiative to welcome and support Afghan nationals as they rebuild their lives in communities across America. Groups of individuals and community organizations can also apply to form a sponsor circle to directly support arriving Afghan evacuees. For more information on the Sponsor Circle Program and to learn how to apply to form a sponsor circle, visit www.sponsorcircles.org.