The United States is housing or prepared to house Afghan nationals fleeing their country at seven military bases in America, military officials announced Friday.
Four bases had already been tapped to temporarily provide shelter for refugees: Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, Fort Lee in Virginia, Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, and Fort Bliss in Texas.
The Department of Defense has authorized three additional bases to accept refugees, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington.
They are the U.S. Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia; Fort Pickett in Virginia; and Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.
The expansion of the number of bases able to house the evacuees means up to 50,000 can be accepted, according to Kirby.
U.S. Northern Command is coordinating details on the evacuations with the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Health and Human Services.
“The secretary has been clear that if we need more because the demand is there, we will work the states and work with the services to identify potential future U.S. military installations, but those are the ones we are operating from now,” Kirby said.
From 3 a.m. Eastern Time on Aug. 26 to 3 a.m. Eastern the next day, the United States flew or facilitated flights for approximately 12,500 people from Kabul. Since Aug. 14, the United States has evacuated or facilitated the evacuation of approximately 105,000 people.
The vast majority are Afghans. They’re being shuttled to countries around the world, but no country is poised to take more than America, which is doling out Special Immigrant Visas and other papers to let the refugees in.
Authorities are using special powers to waive the visa requirement for some of the Afghans. Administration officials claim all the evacuees are vetted before being brought to the United States.
It’s not clear how many Afghans have arrived in the United States. The evacuation flights are first stopping at other countries like Germany before continuing on to America.
Bases in other countries were set to receive on Thursday about 19 flights and approximately 5,000 passengers, Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, the Joint Staff for Regional Operations deputy director, told reporters in Washington. Another six flights with about 3,300 people were set to depart from Europe to the United States.
“More evacuees continue to arrive stateside and are moving to designated installations throughout NORTHCOM,” Taylor said.
More details about the movement will be shared during a Thursday afternoon briefing, officials said.