U.S.-bound flights carrying Afghan refugees from overseas bases were temporarily halted due to four confirmed cases of measles among Afghans who arrived in the United States, the White House said.
“Operation Allies Welcome flights into the United States have been temporarily paused at the request of the CDC and out of an abundance of caution because of four diagnosed cases of measles among Afghans who recently arrived in the United States,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiWhite House: Window for finalizing sweeping budget package 'closing' Emanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing Democrats at odds with Manchin over child tax credit provision MORE told reporters Friday afternoon.
“These individuals are being quarantined in accordance with public health guidelines and the CDC has begun full contact tracing,” Psaki added.
The Associated Press, citing a U.S. government document, said that the flights had been halted from two main bases overseas in Germany and Qatar where Afghan refugees are being vetted.
Psaki noted that all Afghans arriving in the U.S. are required to be vaccinated for measles and that the U.S. is administering vaccinations, like the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, to Afghans at U.S. military bases. Psaki said officials are exploring options to vaccinate Afghans overseas before they come to the U.S.
Thousands of Afghans evacuated out of Afghanistan before the Aug. 30 U.S. withdrawal deadline remain at overseas bases, where officials are performing screening checks before they are brought to the U.S. and other countries.
It is unclear when the U.S.-bound flights will resume.
The White House said Friday that an additional 21 U.S. citizens and 11 lawful permanent residents were moved out of Afghanistan on a Qatar Airways charter flight and via an overland route to a neighboring country, after a separate charter flight transported 10 Americans and 11 permanent residents to Qatar on Thursday.
Over the course of the U.S. military’s chaotic evacuation effort, U.S. and coalition flights evacuated some 124,000 people, including about 6,000 American citizens and thousands of Afghans who assisted the U.S. in the war. Still, thousands of at-risk Afghans and their families remain in Afghanistan.