More than 124,000 people — many of whom are U.S. citizens or who supported U.S. troops over the years — have evacuated Afghanistan over the past months.
Humanitarian needs in Afghanistan remain high. Conflict, extreme drought and the COVID-19 pandemic have converged, with thousands of people newly displaced and millions continuing to suffer from unsafe living conditions and acute food shortages.
As uncertainty in Afghanistan continues, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams are providing humanitarian relief to families inside and outside the country.
For its part, the American Red Cross has supported repatriation and evacuation efforts for thousands of people at U.S. military bases both in the United States and around the globe. The Red Cross has been there to provide comfort, care and a level of normalcy for families dealing with unimaginable upheaval.
Welcoming Evacuees On Military Bases in the U.S. and Abroad
In August, the Department of Defense (DoD) requested American Red Cross support to temporarily care for evacuees being sheltered at military sites in the United States including Fort Bliss in Texas, Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, Camp Atterbury in Indiana, Joint Base Dix-McGuire-Lakehurst in New Jersey, Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, Fort Lee in Virginia, Fort Pickett in Virginia, and Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The Red Cross also welcomed refugees and provided support at emergency reception sites at Dulles International Airport in Virginia and Philadelphia International Airport in Pennsylvania.
This temporary support was intended to be a bridge, providing urgent care to families until long-term, sustained support for evacuees could be put in place. Now, as government agencies have expanded their capacity, onsite Red Cross support at military sites and airports in the U.S. transitioned to other organizations on Thursday, September 30. The Red Cross is fully committed to working with government partners moving forward to help ensure appropriate humanitarian care stays in place to aid these families, who have faced so much uncertainty. Our teams will continue providing Restoring Family Links services to help reconnect family members separated by the crisis.
We are proud to have played a role in welcoming U.S. citizens and Afghan refugees who have been through so much over the past weeks and years. Many evacuees already knew the red cross emblem from their time in Afghanistan. As one of the most widely recognized symbols in the world, people know they can depend on us for help.
Since August, nearly 800 Red Crossers have helped to provide health and mental health services — and making sure people have necessities such as hygiene items, clothing, cribs, diapers and more. Families left critical items behind in the rush to evacuate, so the Red Cross is helping to replace prescription medications, eyeglasses, canes, wheelchairs and other basic items.
The Red Cross will continue supporting Afghan evacuees and the repatriation of U.S. citizens on U.S. military bases around the globe. American military bases in Germany, Spain, Italy, Bahrain, and Kuwait are receiving and housing travelers on their way to the United States. As evacuees arrive from Afghanistan, Red Cross teams are providing items such as food, water, blankets, toiletries, feminine hygiene products and baby care items. Professional medical volunteers with the Red Cross are providing first aid.
Overall, the Red Cross has provided some 1.9 million relief items to support evacuees from Afghanistan. This includes comfort kits with personal hygiene items, towels, blankets, hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, thermometers, baby bottles, portable cribs and stuffed animals. Additionally, the Red Cross has served more than 385,000 meals and snacks.
The American Red Cross has a long history of supporting humanitarian needs for evacuees and refugees arriving in the U.S. from international conflicts. For example, we helped tens of thousands of Hungarian refugees in 1956 during that country’s revolution. We also supported Cuban refugees in the 1960s and aided refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1970s.
Here’s more information about how the Red Cross typically helps refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants in the U.S.
If you are unable to locate a loved one who has been impacted by the current events in Afghanistan, the Red Cross may be able to reconnect you through our Restoring Family Links program. Mental health support is also available, and we encourage people to reach out to the free 24/7 Disaster Distress Helpline via phone or text at 1-800-985-5990.
In Afghanistan: Humanitarian Aid Continues
The American Red Cross has deployed a crisis specialist to support Afghanistan aid efforts through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The Afghan Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have been active in Afghanistan for decades, providing aid such as clean water and medical care.
Currently, one of the worst droughts in decades is crippling food production across the country and nearly one third of Afghanistan’s population is experiencing high levels of acute food shortages. The Afghan Red Crescent is providing cash grants to families who have lost their livelihoods due to the drought so they can buy food supplies and restore crops.
The ICRC, whose medical teams run physical rehabilitation centers in Afghanistan, treated more than 40,000 people wounded by weapons across 46 ICRC-supported facilities in June, July and August alone. The ICRC expects to receive patients for months and years to come as they recover from wounds from explosive devices that litter the country, many of them newly laid in recent weeks. Wards are filled with children, young men and women who have lost limbs and suffered other severe injuries. Since January of this year, the ICRC has provided artificial limb-fitting and physical rehabilitation to nearly 80,000 Afghan citizens. Sadly, for the direst circumstances, ICRC teams are identifying victims, notifying their families and connecting them with the remains of their loved ones.