Sunday 29 August 2021 – 14:25
Afghanistan, US flights transport displaced Afghans from Italy to the United States
Departed from Sigonella Base in Sicily for Filadelfia and Dulles Airports
Rome, August 29. (Askanews) – Displaced people from Afghanistan left Sigonella Naval Air Station August 28 on their way to the United States. Planes bound for the United States took off at full capacity with vulnerable American and Afghan citizens to Philadelphia and Dulles Airport as part of the Allied refugee operation. This was stated in a joint press release issued by the US Embassy in Rome and Sigonella Naval Air Station.
The United States has successfully evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of more than 100,000 people and their families on US Army and Coalition flights. “The departure of planes bound for the United States is the beginning of a new chapter in the lives of American and Afghan citizens who have gone through so many hardships,” said Thomas Smitham, Chargé d’Affairs at the US Embassy in Rome. “It is a testament to our brave American service members, our civil and military cooperation, and the strength of our partnership with the Italian government.”
Operation Allies Refuge is the mission of the US Department of State to evacuate US citizens, special immigrant visas, and other at-risk populations from Afghanistan as quickly and safely as possible. Working in partnership with allies in the Italian Air Force and the Italian government, NAS Sigonella serves as a transit point for the displaced prior to their journey to the United States and other locations.
“I could not be more proud of the Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, Guardians, U.S. Government officials, and our civilian personnel who have worked tirelessly and consistently to ensure a safe haven for these vulnerable people,” said Anna Wood, NAS Commander at Sigonella. This has been an arduous effort that we have undertaken with the State Department and other US government agencies, working together to assist and facilitate the transit of vulnerable US citizens and Afghans into the United States. This first flight of displaced people leaving Italy for the United States is a testament to all we have done and how much we still have to do. We will get this job done and we will do it together.”
State Department officers and their local staff, along with military service members, have been providing around-the-clock assistance since the evacuation mission began August 22.
“I am honored and privileged to be able to work alongside the many dedicated men and women representing so many government agencies,” said Kim Krhonik, Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rome and Head of Interagency Coordination at Sigonella. We are doing everything we can to help vulnerable Americans and Afghans who need help the most. Our goal is to welcome and support them and their families and to lead coordination with interagency colleagues to ensure they reach their destinations as quickly as possible.”
The NAS Sigonella team has also worked tirelessly to prepare and care for the displaced as part of the ongoing airlift efforts at US Central Command and US European Command theatres. NAS Sigonella personnel assigned two barracks and other temporary housing buildings at the base for the displaced. Each place is equipped with halal, religious and entertainment areas. In addition, medical assistance is provided to assess and assist people with injuries or other medical problems.
A local imam – the joint memorandum continues – makes daily visits to help the displaced with religious and spiritual support. Community members and dependents of US forces assigned to NAS Sigonella continued to volunteer and donate. The response was so overwhelming that each of the hundreds of children who arrived at NAS Sigonella was given a soft doll to welcome them, with clothing and other needs provided for all.
In addition to the USAF Air Mobility Command’s airlift operation, the US Navy provided critical additional support to evacuees using four Clipper C-40As, from the Fleet Logistics Support Wing, based at Gwent Fort Worth.
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