Afghan evacuation flights expected to resume next week

The Biden administration paused incoming flights containing Afghan refugees after two cases of the deadly measles virus were discovered.
Afghan refugees departing a rescue flight.
MARISCAL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Flights containing Afghan refugees are expected to resume their journey to the U.S. following a three-week quarantine period due to cases of measles.

According to The Hill, the Biden administration paused incoming flights containing Afghan refugees after a U.S. Air Force base in Germany confirmed two cases of the deadly childhood virus. 

Measles has almost been eradicated in the U.S. due to the MMR vaccine being required prior to starting elementary school.

As of Thursday, the Pentagon reports that 100% of the nearly 14,000 refugees currently being housed overseas have been vaccinated against measles. About 84% of evacuees have also been vaccinated against COVID-19, but any remaining people refusing the vaccine will have to remain on a military base until it is deemed safe by the government. 

“The U.S. government continues to take every precaution to stop the spread of COVID and other diseases, consistent with CDC guidance,” said Gen. Glen VanHerck during a press conference at the Pentagon.

“The task forces have undertaken vaccination campaigns and they are rapidly approaching 100 percent completion of all required vaccines for 100 percent of the eligible Afghans,” he continued. 

The Defense Department can house approximately 64,000 refugees at one time, and once evacuations resume, this is expected to push them over their limit. However, VanHerck told reporters that with so many Afghans leaving bases after meeting certain requirements, there shouldn’t be any need to open up additional bases.

“We’re relying on the output to ensure that we have enough capacity for the additional remaining Afghans coming this way,” he said.

Afghan refugees cannot resettle into the community until they have received the required vaccines, and a criminal background check has been conducted.