Authorities have administered measles vaccine to about 49,000 evacuees staying temporarily on American military bases as well as to those still at transit points in Europe and the Middle East, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

In this Sept. 27, 2021, file photo a female member of the military puts her arms around two female Afghan refugees after they spoke with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin as he visits an Afghan refugee camp on Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, NJ.
In this Sept. 27, 2021, file photo a female member of the military puts her arms around two female Afghan refugees after they spoke with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin as he visits an Afghan refugee camp on Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, NJ. (AP)

Afghan refugees will soon be arriving again in the US after a massive campaign to vaccinate them against measles following a small outbreak that caused a three-week pause in evacuations, officials have said.

About 49,000 evacuees staying temporarily on American military bases as well as to those still at transit points in Europe and the Middle East, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

READ MORE: Hundreds of Afghans leave US military bases before resettlement

'Commitment to the health and well-being'

The measles outbreak, detected in 24 people, had put on hold one of the largest refugee resettlement effort s in US history, dubbed Operation Allies Welcome. 

It also stranded about 15,000 at overseas transit points.

“The success of this vaccination campaign demonstrates our commitment to the health and well-being of arriving Afghan evacuees, the personnel assisting this mission, and the American people,” Dr. Pritesh Gandhi, the DHS chief medical officer, said in announcing the completion of the effort.

Everyone coming from Afghanistan is also tested for Covid-19. About 84 percent of the refugees in the US and at overseas transit points have now received vaccinations against the coronavirus, officials said. 

The US evacuated about 120,000 people in the chaotic days following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in August. They were a mix of US citizens, Afghans with legal permanent residency or who were applying for visas and refugee status along with their families.

READ MORE: What about the mental health of Afghan children?

53,000 Afghans stay US bases

Testifying before Congress last week, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the US has admitted about 60,000 people from the airlift out of Afghanistan, about 7 percent of whom are American citizens and about 6 percent of whom are permanent residents. 

About 3 percent have, along with their families, received the special immigrant visa for people who worked for the US government or its allies during the war as interpreters or in some other capacity.

The rest are a combination of people who are in the process of finalizing their special immigrant visas or are considered likely candidates for refugee status because they are human rights activists, journalists or others who are considered particularly vulnerable under Taliban rule or for some other reasons. 

All undergo security vetting before they arrive in the US.

DHS says a majority of the Afghans being resettled in the US worked for the country in some form or are related to someone who did. 

The agency projects at least 40 percent are eligible for the special immigrant visa.

There are about 53,000 Afghans currently staying at eight US military bases and receiving medical care and other assistance before they settle around the US

Gen. Glen VanHerck, head of US Northern Command, told reporters Thursday that about 4,000 Afghans at the US bases have completed medical screening and the 21-day quarantine required after receiving the  vaccine for measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox that most Americans receive in childhood, and should be setting in their new homes in the coming days.

READ MORE: Dreams and years of hard work: What is at stake for Afghan women?

Source: TRTWorld and agencies