Evacuees that fled Afghanistan on September 28, are now stranded at an airport hangar in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with poor conditions after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) denied landing rights to a charter flight carrying more than 100 U.S citizens and lawful permanent residents.
The original plan, organized by Project Dynamo, the Shadow Warriors Project, and the Human First Coalition, aimed to fly the evacuees from the UAE to JFK airport in New York and was approved by Customs and Border Protection. The flight plan was later changed to land at Dulles Airport in Virginia until DHS denied landing rights to the charter flight.
Reuters reported 28 American citizens, six people with U.S. Immigration Visas, and 83 green card holders are being stashed at the hangar in Abu Dhabi. Fifty-nine of the evacuees are children.
“The first justification was that there was no procedure by which American citizens could return to the United States on a charter flight, which we did not understand,” Project Dynamo’s Stan Bunner told Al Jazeera. U.S. officials also expressed concerns regarding evacuees potentially having Measles, but Bunner told the outlet that evacuees were confirmed to be up to date on measles vaccination and tested negative for coronavirus.
Amenities and conditions in the hangar are poor, Fox News reports. Evacuees are struggling “with limited food and water, no shower options, poor bathrooms, and restricted movement due to them being on an airfield, organizers say. Families are sleeping on tile floors and hard plastic chairs with limited access to potable water,” according to Fox.
— The Next Revolution (@NextRevFNC) September 13, 2021
“We have an immediate and urgent need for food and diapers in the airport. There are no stores in the hangar where they are. I’ve spent all night on the phone trying to get supplies to them and I can’t,” Project Dynamo’s Jen Wilson told Fox News.
Fox reports that a new option has come about for organizers of the evacuation that would include using an Egyptian plane to passengers to fly passengers from Abu Dhabi to Cairo. The plane would refuel in Egypt and then take the evacuees to Dulles Airport in Virginia. The charter flight would cost organizers around $450,000 and would still necessitate United States security clearance.
The State Department has announced that it needs to verify and vet the list of passengers on the plane before a charter flight can transport the evacuees to the U.S.
— New York Post (@nypost) September 29, 2021
“Our embassy staff in the UAE has been working around the clock to verify the accuracy of the passenger manifest and is coordinating with DHS/Customs and Border Protection on the ground to ensure the passengers are screened and vetted before they are permitted to fly to the United States,” a State Department spokesperson informed Reuters. The spokesperson added that “we expect the passengers to continue onward travel tomorrow morning.”
“All U.S.-bound flights must follow the established safety, security, and health protocols before they are cleared for departure,” a DHS spokesperson informed Fox News. “This process requires flight manifests to be verified before departure to the U.S. to ensure all passengers are screened appropriately,”
“I have a big, beautiful, giant, humongous Boeing 787 that I can see parked in front of us,” a founder of Project Dynamo Byran Stern told Reuters. “I have crew. I have food.”