New Jersey will launch a task force to assist refugees, and Philadelphia is seeking volunteers to help with translation.
“Task force personnel at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst prepared to welcome vulnerable Afghans in support of the State Department efforts,” said a statement from the base. “Last night, the task force welcomed the first group of Afghans for housing, food, medical screening and treatment, and other services. We expect these arrivals to continue throughout today, and the coming days.”
As part of Operation Allies Refuge, the Defense Department is building capacity to house up to 50,000 Afghan evacuees on seven different military installations across the United States.
The first group of evacuees fleeing the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has already arrived at a military base in New Jersey. The Public Affairs Office of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst shared photos on Facebook Thursday of soldiers preparing for their arrival.
Unknown numbers of U.S.-affiliated families fearing Taliban retribution have been split up in the chaotic scramble for flights before the U.S. evacuation operation ends by Tuesday, said people involved in ad hoc networks racing to help extricate at-risk Afghans.
As part of contingency planning and preparation for potential support of Afghan Special Immigrant (ASI) relocation, environmental officials at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst have prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment and Draft Finding of “No Significant Impact”.
The Draft EA evaluates the potential for environmental impacts associated with the proposed action of mobilizing temporary shelter facilities for ASIs within the Burlington County portion of the military facility.
The Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021, as enacted on July 30, 2021, authorized 8,000 additional Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Afghan principal applicants, for a total of 34,500 visas allocated since December 19, 2014.
The Department of State’s authority to issue SIVs to Afghan nationals will continue until all visa numbers allocated under the law are issued.
The proposed action is in accordance with a presidential authorization and Joint Staff issued Planning Order for Department of Defense Support to the Department of State for Afghan Relocation to coordinate U.S. efforts to provide temporary shelter to ASIs.
In support of this order, the USAF is proposing to make DoD land or facilities available at JB MDL and mobilize the temporary shelter of up to 9,500 ASIs on JB MDL for up to 365 days.
The proposed action involves utilization of existing facilities as well as construction of temporary shelters on a former parade ground on Dix Area of JB MDL. The need for the proposed action is to provide safe haven and shelter at JB MDL for ASIs who assisted the U.S. and our allies.
The Draft Environmental Assessment has been prepared in order for the Air Force to be ready as a proposed ASI location to support the mission and ensure a firm understanding of environmental issues and potential public concerns associated with the proposal.
The Draft EA and Draft FONSI are available for review at the following library location and website: https://www.jbmdl.jb.mil/About-Us/About-Us/Environmental-Publications/
Burlington County Library Pemberton Branch
16 Broadway Street Brown Mills, NJ 08015
Written comments on the Draft EA and Draft FONSI/FONPA are invited and should be sent by Close of Business on 28 August 2021. Please mail and/or email comments to:
ATTN: EA Temporary Shelter of Afghan Special Immigrants
2901 Falcon Lane
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ 08641
“We are all committed to ensuring that our citizens, nationals and residents, employees, Afghans who have worked with us and those who are at risk can continue to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan,” said a multinational statement released by the State Department. “We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorization from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country.”
“We will continue issuing travel documentation to designated Afghans, and we have the clear expectation of and commitment from the Taliban that they can travel to our respective countries. We note the public statements of the Taliban confirming this understanding,” it said.
The statement was signed by the Governments of the United States of America, Albania, Australia, Belgium, Belize, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Canada, Central African Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Eswatini, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, North Macedonia, Norway, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Cyprus, Republic of Korea, Republic of Kosovo, Romania, Rwanda, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, St. Kitts and Nevis, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland , The Bahamas, The Gambia, The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Union of the Comoros, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Yemen, and Zambia.