ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — Holloman Air Force Base officials said Afghan refugees have started arriving at the base in southern New Mexico.
A C-130J transport flew the first Afghans to Holloman from Philadelphia on Tuesday, base officials said Wednesday in a statement that did not specify how many refugees had arrived at the base in support of Operation Allies Welcome.
Operation Allies Welcome is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s mission to facilitate the safe relocation of Afghans being evacuated to the United States.
“I am truly impressed by the men and women of Task Force–Holloman, the 49th Wing, and the Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resources unit – BEAR Base, who came together in such a short amount of time to make this vital mission happen,” said Brig. Gen. Daniel Gabrielli, Task Force–Holloman commander. “It is because of their unwavering support that we were able to receive our guests with open arms and ensure that they are treated with the utmost dignity and respect.”
The Defense Department previously said multiple military installations across the country would temporarily provide housing plus medical and other support for up to 50,000 Afghans.
Officials said the refugees came to the U.S. under the Special Immigrant Visa program and would undergo medical screening, including testing for the coronavirus, before arriving at the military bases.
The U.S. and its allies conducted a massive evacuation from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control of most of the country as the U.S. withdrew support to the Afghan military.
The Alamogordo Daily News reported that Holloman officials were accepting donations of clothing, personal hygiene items and new tote and gym bags.
Officials said Douglas Village was built as a temporary lodging area to house the refugees with Halal
dining, religious and recreation areas also available. Medical personnel will also assess and provide assistance for anyone with injuries or requiring medical care.