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Measles outbreak among Afghan evacuees halts their flights to U.S.

The halt will "severely impact" evacuations out of Ramstein Air Base in Germany, according to a government document.

Updated: September 10, 2021 - 5:45pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

United States-bound flights of Afghan evacuees were halted following a limited outbreak of measles among Afghans who have arrived in America.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the decision to cease flights from U.S. bases in Qatar and Germany, which was made by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), according to a government document viewed by The Associated Press on Friday. The document said the reason for the halt was unspecified "health safety concerns."

The temporary halt was the result of measles cases being discovered among four arrivals in the U.S., White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

The government document the AP viewed said the pause on flights would "severely impact" the operations at the U.S. Ramstein Air Base in Germany and would have an "adverse effect" on the nearly 10,000 evacuees, many of whom have been there for more than 10 days.

There are still thousands of Afghan evacuees in third-country transit sites waiting to be moved to the U.S. or other countries.

The halt of the flights causing a delay in the transit of the evacuees is an issue because Germany gave the U.S. a 10-day limit to use their country as a transit site, the AP reported.

In addition to Germany, other countries such as Qatar, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Spain have agreed to temporarily host U.S. processing and transit sites for evacuees following the fall of Kabul, which allies had initially wanted to avoid because of concerns they would have to deal with U.S. security issues, according to the wire service.

On Friday, 32 Americans and green-card holders left Afghanistan, according to National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne, with 13 by land and 19 on a Qatar Airways flight. It was the second evacuation flight the Taliban allowed since U.S. troops left.