Boris Johnson on August 31st leaving date from Afghanistan
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Thousands of vulnerable refugees have been rescued by US forces from Afghanistan and sent to military bases across Europe, the Middle East and central Asia. The US has the capacity to accommodate around 10,000 people at the Al Udeid airbase in Qatar – but many have been subject to appalling conditions as they await transfer, according to reports.
US Central Command Supervisory Special Agent Colin Sullivan sent a series of damning messages to officials at the US State Department and Pentagon on Friday.
The messages under the subject line “Dire conditions at Doha” were delivered on the same day flights to the site were temporarily suspended following issues over capacity.
In one note seen by US website Axios, the location is described as a place where “trash, urine, fecal matter, spilled liquids and vomit cover the floors.”
Another internal message said: “Hangar update. They now have a rat problem.”
A third note added: “Another flight arrived and there’s no resources to solve the sanitation problem.
“These human beings are in a living nightmare.”
Supervisory Special Agent Sullivan insisted he was not “downplaying the conditions in Kabul” or the circumstances Afghans “are escaping from”.
But pointed out “the current conditions in Doha are of our own doing”.
Major General Hank Taylor appeared to address the situation at Al Udeid on Tuesday.
He said the Pentagon is “focused on building capacity” in holding bases around the world.
He added: “We are committed to doing more, and to continue to expand and improve our facilities- from adding shelter, to additional sanitation, handwashing stations, refrigerator trucks, providing cold water and the appropriate food, and we’re working with our partners to increase this capacity.”
The US has installed more than 100 toilets in the Qatar base and is offering refugees three meals a day, the US state department said.
In a statement, the department said it is “working quickly to alleviate bottlenecks and are surging consular personnel in Qatar, in addition to expediting manifesting, to alleviate current conditions”.
A spokesperson added: “The State Department and Department of Defense have been in incredibly close coordination at every level, along with the rest of the interagency, to stand up these transit points and ensure that they are safe and have adequate provisions for those temporarily being housed.
“We have also worked closely to address issues as they arise and improve conditions as we learn of concerns.”
The Department added its aims to relocate refugees away from holding bases within days of arrival.
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The US has deployed more than 5,000 troops to facilitate the evacuation efforts from Kabul airport ahead of the August 31 deadline.
More than 50,000 refugees have been flown out of Afghanistan in the past 10 days.
US President Joe Biden attended a virtual meeting with G7 leaders this afternoon and refused to keep a military presence on the ground beyond the deadline.
Following the meeting, his press secretary Jen Psaki said the US is “currently on pace to finish by August 31”.
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