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A man walks with a child through Fort Bliss’ Doña Ana Village where Afghan refugees are being housed, in New Mexico. / PHOTO: Associated Press (Headline USA) Echoing earlier bans that prevented media from observing the conditions at detention centers for illegal immigrants, as well as the conditions of Jan. 6 political dissidents, the Biden administration allowed a carefully curated glimpse at the military base housing recent Afghani evacuees.
But it refused to allow media to speak to the detainees about the conditions or other circumstances leading to their evacuation following President Joe Biden’s failed withdrawal.
“Every Afghan who is here with us has endured a harrowing journey and they are now faced with the very real challenges of acclimating with life in the United States,” Liz Gracon, a senior State Department official, told reporters.
Yet, many questions lingered about how the government is caring for the refugees and vetting them.
The three-hour tour at Fort Bliss Army base in El Paso, Texas , was the first time the media has been granted broad access to one of the eight U.S. military installations housing Afghans.
But even so, reporters, including those with The Associated Press, were not allowed to talk with any evacuees or spend more than a few minutes in areas where they were gathered, with military officials citing “privacy concerns.”
Nearly 10,000 Afghan evacuees are staying at the base while they undergo medical and security checks before being resettled in the United States.
The operation was described by officials at the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State as a “historic” and “unprecedented” effort to facilitate the relocation of a huge number of refugees in less than a month’s time.
On Friday, Afghan children with soccer balls and basketballs played outside large white tents.Families walked down a dirt driveway with stacks of plastic food containers piled under their chins and Coca-Cola cans under their arms.One young girl, still wearing dirty clothing, cried in the middle of the road after her food spilled and soldiers attempted to help her.Inside the containers, which refugees had spent around 15 minutes in line for in the blistering sun, […]
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