The first thousand Afghan refugees should arrive at Indiana’s Camp Atterbury by this weekend.
Camp Atterbury will temporarily house a total of five-thousand evacuees from Afghanistan. Indiana National Guard Adjutant General Dale Lyles says they’ll be vetted by the F-B-I and the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security before leaving for the U-S, and again when they land. They’ll undergo medical screenings when they arrive at Atterbury.
Lyles says all arrivals will stay at Atterbury at least two weeks to complete the medical screenings. Those with special immigrant visas can leave as soon as they’re medically cleared. Governor Holcomb says the Pentagon has advised that those with lower-priority visas will stay “weeks, not months” beyond that.
Lyles says Atterbury is equipped to handle the influx. Families will be housed in dorms on the 46-thousand-acre property, while those arriving alone may be housed in open-layout barracks. The base has its own medical clinic, and is contracting to bring in extra equipment like X-ray machines. Lyles says the Guard is mindful of the strain that hospitals are under from the coronavirus pandemic, and will make sure the refugees don’t add to it.
The Guard will offer evacuees the COVID vaccine, and will administer other vaccinations required in Indiana, like those for measles and polio.
Lyles says there’s been an outpouring of Hoosiers wanting to help. Right now, it’s not clear what help will be needed. Lyles says the Guard is setting up a procedure to handle those offers. For now, he says people should call the Guard at (317) 247-3559, and they’ll take your name and get back to you.
Holcomb says those offers of help have included businesses offering to hire Afghans. He says many refugees will be joining family members already in the U-S, but says Indiana’s ready to welcome those who want to settle here. He says many of those who fled Afghanistan literally risked their lives to help American troops, and says Indiana should be ready to go “the extra distance” to help them in return.