Afghan refugees arriving in the United States are sitting on airplanes for up to 12 hours on the tarmac at Washington Dulles International Airport as their paperwork is processed.
Afghan Refugees Waiting 10-12 Hours To Even Step Off Airplanes At Washington Dulles
The current mission in Afghanistan is clear: evacuate eligible parties now, complete a full vetting later. As the Taliban-imposed August 31st deadline looms for U.S. troops to exit, thousands are departing Afghanistan each day, heading to the United States via U.S. bases in Germany and the Persian Gulf.
But as U.S. foreign bases reach capacity, refugees are arriving on full flights to the United States. Currently, Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) outside of the District of Columbia is serving as the single processing center for these new refugees, with background checks and COVID-19 screenings taking place after landing.
Refugees, some who left Afghanistan with only the clothes on their back and not even any shoes, have waited up to 12 hours in Washington Dulles to be allowed off the aircraft. Once off the aircraft, refugees are bussed to the Dulles Expo Center, where they have access to:
- clean toilets
- mobile phone charging stations
One there, processing can take an additional day, which includes extensive background checks and health screenings.
But while waiting onboard, airlines have provided:
- baby formula
The waits have only gotten worse as more flights arrive (and are set to arrive). On Thursday, seven aircraft were parked waiting to be processed.
A Department of Homeland Security official told The Wall Street Journal:
“Over the last several days, we have worked with urgency and with care to enhance screening and vetting operations such that we make these operations more efficient without compromising national security.”
Philadelphia International Airport could serve as a secondary port of entry starting as early as today.
Once processed, refugees may be placed on special domestic charter flights to other points within the U.S. for final resettlement.
The additional wait on an air-conditioned plane is probably a small price to pay to escape Afghanistan, though it again brings into question the competence of U.S. officials handing this operation.
Refugees are waiting up to 12 hours to even be allowed off the plane before being bussed to a convention center for further processing.
But in a small glimmer of hope, many families have already been joyfully re-united in the parking lot outside. Now a new life in the USA awaits…
image: United Airlines (refugees boarding a domestic resettlement flight)