DHS not allowing charter flight carrying evacuees from Afghanistan to land in US, organizers say
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is not allowing a charter flight carrying Americans and other evacuees from Afghanistan to land in the U.S., according to the organizers of the flight.
Bryan Stern, the founder of Project Dynamo, which works to evacuate individuals from Afghanistan, told Reuters that 117 people, including 59 children, are at an airport Abu Dhabi waiting to fly to the U.S.
The 117 people include 28 Americans, six people with special immigrant visas and 83 green card holders who were flown out of Afghanistan on Kam Air, a private Afghan airline, Stern said.
“They will not allow a charter on an international flight into a U.S. port of entry,” he added.
Stern also said he originally had permission to fly the evacuees to the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, and was then told they would be able land at Dulles International airport near Washington, D.C.
“I have a big, beautiful, giant, humongous Boeing 787 that I can see parked in front of us,” he added. “I have crew. I have food.”
A State Department spokesperson said they were aware of the flight and have been working with the embassy in the United Arab Emirates to verify and vet the travelers.
“All U.S.-bound flights must follow the established safety, security, and health protocols before they are cleared for departure. This process requires flight manifests to be verified before departure to the U.S. to ensure all passengers are screened appropriately,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement
The passengers in the plane are expected to continue their travel Thursday, the State Department spokesperson said.
Project Dynamo posted pictures of the children sleeping in the airport on Facebook.
“Right now we have 59 children sleeping on airport chairs and cold airport floors – not the warm bed with a hot meal that we’d arranged for all of them stateside – because the US Government denied our flight clearance into ALL US ports of entry. All of them. For a plane load of Americans,” it said in the post.
“They escaped the regime they were running from only to have the government they were running HOME TO, turn them away. This cannot be what America does to Americans. Bring Dynamo 01 home. Now. Today,” Project Dynamo added.
Mark Geist of The Shadow Warriors Project, which assisted Project Dynamo in getting the 117 people out of Afghanistan, said in a statement that 16 of the children are under the age of 3.
Updated at 11:26 a.m.
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