EL PASO, Texas -- Over 650 evacuees from Afghanistan are currently being housed at Fort Bliss and officials have indicated more are expected to arrive this week.
El Paso Congresswoman Veronica Escobar said Monday that more than 650 Afghan refugees had arrived at the military installation as of Saturday. Fort Bliss officials on Sunday had indicated additional arrivals would be continuing over the next several days.
The Pentagon said Monday that the current total number of Afghan refugees being housed at four military installations in the U.S. - including Fort Bliss - is approximately 1,200.
Neither Escobar or Army officials have estimated how many total Afghani refugees are expected to be housed at Fort Bliss once evacuations are concluded.
Escobar said the hundreds of evacuees currently at Bliss are visa applicants along with their families. She indicated that the Army post was "preparing to house (the) refugees for an extended period" as those visa applications are processed.
People who worked with the U.S. military in Afghanistan as translators, interpreters or other contractors are eligible to receive a visa, but there is currently a backlog in the lengthy application process.
The congresswoman said all evacuees taken to Fort Bliss had received "rigorous medical screenings" and she added that plans were being made for on-site Covid-19 vaccinations. The Pentagon said all evacuees are tested for Covid-19 upon arriving at the Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. before being transported to Bliss and the other housing sites.
As of Aug. 21st, there have been over 650 arrivals on base, including primary visa applicants and their families. Upon arrival, they undergo rigorous medical screenings and examinations by DoD staff to ensure the safety of people on base, refugees and our community. (2/6)— Rep. Veronica Escobar (@RepEscobar) August 23, 2021