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More Evacuees From Afghanistan To Fly To U.S. After Getting Measles Vaccine

Evacuees arrive at Qatar, Doha, on September 10 after being airlifted from Kabul, Afghanistan. (file photo)

The U.S. military expects to begin receiving new evacuees from Afghanistan in the United States as their wait in Europe and the Middle East comes to an end after being vaccinated for measles.

General Glen VanHerck, head of U.S. Northern Command, told reporters on September 30 that there are about 14,000 Afghans who are expected to begin arriving in the United States starting next week.

“I would anticipate that the flights will start here in the very near future,” said VanHerck. “Next week we could see something” because the 21-day vaccination process would be complete.

Thousands of Afghans were airlifted out of Afghanistan in August in the wake of the U.S. military withdrawal and the Taliban takeover of the country.

As Afghan refugees began arriving at military bases in Europe and the Middle East, cases of measles were detected. Acting on the recommendation of U.S. government health officials, U.S. Customs and Border Protection paused all flights around September 10.

The evacuees have been held while they get vaccinated and wait for 21 days so the vaccine can take effect.

VanHerck said there have been 24 cases of measles, including 12 cases that are still active. He said that as of September 30, all the evacuees had been vaccinated for measles, and the 21-day waiting period will start ending next week for those who were first to receive the vaccine.

VanHerck also said that about 84 percent of the evacuees are at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19.

The estimated 53,000 evacuees who are at U.S. military installations in America are gradually completing their medical and other screening processes and being cleared to leave and resettle in the United States, VanHerck said.

As they begin to move to their new homes, that will free up room at the bases for those being flown in from overseas.

Asked about assaults and other problems at the U.S. bases, VanHerck said that two Afghans have been indicted in connection with sexual assaults at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

Federal authorities also are investigating an alleged assault on a female service member by three to four men at Fort Bliss, Texas. No one has been arrested or charged in that incident.

There also have been minor skirmishes and assaults as well as eight reported cases of robbery and theft, he said.

With reporting by AP
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