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A Task Force Holloman Airman holds up an Afghan child during a performance by the U.S. Air Force Academy Winds musical ensemble at Aman Omid Village at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 12, 2021.

A Task Force Holloman Airman holds up an Afghan child during a performance by the U.S. Air Force Academy Winds musical ensemble at Aman Omid Village at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 12, 2021. (Skyler Combs/U.S. Air Force)

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (Tribune News Service) — The last group of Afghan refugees housed on Holloman Air Force Base departed the base on Jan. 26.

The Afghan refugees were temporarily housed on Holloman Air Force Base as part of Operation Allies Welcome, or OAW, which is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security mission to facilitate the safe relocation of evacuated Afghans to the United States following the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan.

“Operation Allies Welcome successfully hosted out Afghan guests,” Col. Ryan Keeney, 49th Wing Commander, said in a Facebook video. “Thanks to our National Guard and Reserve service members and our federal partners involved with OAW mission here at Holloman. We also appreciate the volunteers and community members whose selfless dedication helped support the thousands of Afghans in Aman Omid Village on Holloman over the last five months.”

Holloman Air Force Base is the fourth of eight U.S. Department of Defense installations to complete Operation Allies Welcome operations.

Afghan refugees arrived on Holloman Air Force Base on Aug. 31, 2021. They were temporarily housed in a tent city known as Aman Omid Village. Aman and omid translate as peace and hope.

Over the last five months, there was a rolling average of about 4,500 Afghan refugees at Aman Omid Village.

While at Aman Omid Village, Afghan refugees were given halal meals, lessons in American culture and used recreation areas where they played with soccer balls or played cricket.

“With the completion of operations at Holloman AFB, we have now helped more than 66,000 Afghan evacuees begin their new lives in the United States,” Robert J. Fenton, Jr., Senior Response Official for Operation Allies Welcome said in a Department of Homeland Security press release.

“I am grateful for all the federal staff, servicemembers, volunteers, and local partners who have participated in this historic effort and for the countless Americans who are welcoming our Afghan allies into their communities.”

As of Jan. 27, there were about 9,000 Afghan refugees still in the process of resettling in the U.S. They are temporarily residing on Camp Atterbury, Indiana; Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; Fort Pickett, Virginia; and Joint Base McGuire-Dix- Lakehurst, New Jersey.

“To date, more than 66,000 Afghan evacuees have been resettled in communities across the country,” the Department of Homeland Security press release states. “These resettlement efforts are led by the Department of State in close coordination with more than 290 local resettlement affiliates.”

While being housed on military installations, the Afghan refugees have access to medical care, recreation, resettlement services and they can also apply for work authorization.

As to vetting and COVID-19 testing, the Afghan refugees that are in the process of being resettled are vetted prior to entering the U.S. and are tested for COVID-19.

“Prior to entering the United States, Afghan evacuees must successfully complete a rigorous, multi-layered screening and vetting process that includes biometric and biographic screenings conducted by intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals from multiple federal agencies,” the Department of Homeland Security press release states. “Afghan evacuees also receive critical vaccinations - which include measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), varicella, polio, COVID-19, and others - as a condition of their humanitarian parole. All OAW arrivals are tested for COVID-19.”

Those interested in supporting the resettlement of vulnerable Afghans can go to www.welcome.us to learn more about how to get involved.

Welcome.US is a national nonprofit initiative to welcome and support Afghan nationals resettling in the U.S.

Another way to help is for people and organizations to apply to form sponsor circles that directly support Afghan refugees.

For more information on the Sponsor Circle Program and to learn how to apply to form a sponsor circle, visit www.sponsorcircles.org.

nmaxwell@alamogordonews.com

©2021 Alamogordo (N.M.) Daily News.

Visit at alamogordonews.com.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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