Leading US newspaper details chaos in Doha after Afghans’ evacuation from Kabul

Leading US newspaper details chaos in Doha after Afghans' evacuation from Kabul

NEW YORK, Sep 04 (APP): US Military and government officials in Doha, Qatar, had to cope with the chaos that unfolded after thousands of Afghans refugees were evacuated to Doha, contrasting with President Joe Biden’s August 31 assertion that the airlift from Kabul was an “extraordinary success”, according to a New York Times report, citing State Department emails.

Many refugees were sent to Doha because Qatar was the first country to open its doors to those fleeing the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.

Almost 15,000 Afghan refugees were packed into airplane hangars and tents at Al Udeid Air Base, home to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing and nearby Camp As Sayliyah, a U.S. Army base in the Persian Gulf nation, the report said.

Daily emails sent from Doha on behalf of top military and diplomat officials in the region, obtained by The Times, along with interviews and other documents from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, paint a state of disorder in the newspaper report.

Two hundred and twenty-nine unaccompanied children were being held near the base, including many teenage boys who repeatedly bullied younger children, the report said. There were a “large number of pregnant women,” some of whom needed medical attention, and increasing reports of “gastrointestinal issues” among the refugees.

Tensions in the temporary shelters had “flared,” it said, “due to prolonged stays and unpredictable exit dates.” At the Army base, “single males, including former Afghan military” had become unruly “and contraband weapons have been confiscated.” Overwhelmed, neither base was testing Afghan evacuees for the coronavirus, the report said.

Whatever plans the Biden administration had for an orderly evacuation unraveled when Kabul fell in a matter of days, setting off a frenzied, last-minute global mobilization, the Times said.

“Refugees pushed their way onto airplanes (in Kabul). Hundreds of children were separated from their parents. Rogue flights landed without manifests. Security vetting of refugees was done in hours or days, rather than months or years,” the paper said

Zainullah Zaki, an Afghan veteran of the war who fought with the US Marines and aided the US Army, told The Times that conditions were “not good” at the military base in Doha. He described having to sleep on the floor without blankets or pillows with his wife and children.

The report describes fights breaking out and “tension” among refugees within the temporary shelters.

The Times also reports that there were “rogue” chartered flights that didn’t have manifests – or at least not complete ones.

“There are multiple other ‘rogue’ flights that are seeking the same permissions” to land, officials from the US Department of State said via email obtained by The Times. “We have 300 people in Doha now who are basically stateless. Most have no papers.”

Over 100 children have arrived in the US without parental accompaniment, the US Department of State told The Times.

So far, only 40,000 have made it to the United States, according to the report. Of those 40,000, only 22% are American. Another 15,000 are set to arrive by next Friday, the report says.