The US Defense Department announced Monday that it is opening up two additional military bases for arriving citizens of Afghanistan fleeing from the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
Fort McCoy in the state of Wisconsin and Fort Bliss in Texas will join the previously announced Fort Lee in Virginia as temporary homes for about 22,000 projected Afghans who aided the US and its allies during the 20-year war. They are expected to arrive in three to four weeks.
Gary Reid, who heads the Pentagon's efforts to assist the Special Immigrant Visa program, said the three forts do not yet have the capacity to house that many Afghans, but "it will take some time to build out."
Reid also said the US was working with an unidentified country in the Afghanistan region and others to help serve as way stations "as we get people out, so that we can do some sorting and then help with.. transportation from these locations."
Once Afghan refugees arrive at the forts, resettlement agencies will start working on securing housing and employment, schooling for children and arranging doctors' appointments.
In Wisconsin, Jewish Social Services in the city of Madison, about an hour away from Fort McCoy, is preparing to accept families. The group has already resettled about two dozen Afghans in the last several months.