US flights carry Afghan evacuees from Italy to the United States
August 29, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Joint press release from the United States Embassy in Rome and Naval Air Station Sigonella
NAVAL AIR STATION SIGONELLA, Italy – August 29, 2021 – Evacuees from Afghanistan departed Naval Air Station Sigonella on August 28 en route to the United States. Planes bound for the United States took off at full capacity carrying vulnerable U.S. citizens and Afghans to Philadelphia and Dulles Airport as part of Operation Allies Refuge.
âThe United States has successfully evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of more than 100,000 people and their families on US military and coalition flights. The departure of planes for the United States is the beginning of a new chapter in the lives of American citizens and Afghans who have endured so many hardships, âsaid Thomas Smitham, ChargÃ© d’affaires, United States Embassy in Rome. “It is a testament to our courageous American military, our civil and military cooperation and the strength of our partnership with the Italian government.”
Operation Allies Refuge is the U.S. Department of State’s mission to evacuate U.S. citizens, special immigration visa applicants, and other vulnerable populations from Afghanistan as quickly and safely as possible. Working in partnership with Italian Air Force and Italian government allies, NAS Sigonella serves as a transit point for evacuees before their journey to the United States and other locations.
“I could not be more proud of the Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, Guardians, U.S. Government officials and our civilian personnel here who have worked tirelessly and continuously to ensure that we provide a safe haven to these vulnerable people, âsaid NAS Sigonella. Command Master Chief Anna Wood. âThis is a Herculean effort that we have implemented with the State Department and other US government agencies, working together to assist and facilitate the transit of US citizens and Afghans at risk to the United States. United. This first flight of evacuees leaving Italy for the United States is a testament to all that we have done and all that we still have to do. We will accomplish this mission, and we will do it together.
State Department officers and their local staff, as well as members of the military service, have worked to provide round-the-clock assistance since the evacuation mission began on August 22.
“I am honored and honored to be able to serve alongside so many dedicated men and women representing several government agencies,” said Kim Krhounek, Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the United States Embassy in Rome and Chief of interagency coordination at Sigonella. âWe are doing everything we can to help vulnerable Americans and Afghans who are in desperate need of help. Our goal is to receive them, support them and their families, and lead coordination with interagency colleagues to ensure they can get to their destinations as quickly as possible.
NAS Sigonella’s team has also worked tirelessly to prepare and care for evacuees as part of the ongoing airlift effort in the theaters of U.S. Central Command and U.S. European Command.
NAS Sigonella personnel designated two barracks buildings and other temporary accommodation on the base for the evacuees. Each accommodation has halal, religious and leisure dining areas. In addition, medical care is provided to assess and assist those who are injured or have other medical problems.
A local imam made daily visits to assist the evacuees with religious and spiritual support. Members of the local community and dependents of US forces assigned to NAS Sigonella continued to volunteer and donate. The response was so overwhelming that each of the hundreds of children who arrived at NAS Sigonella received a plush toy to welcome them, with clothes and other needs provided for each.
In addition to the airlift operation conducted by the Air Mobility Command of the US Air Force, the US Navy provided additional support to critical evacuees using four C-40A Clippers, from the Fleet Logistics Support Wing, based at Joint Base Fort Worth.
Known as the “Mediterranean Hub,” NAS Sigonella’s strategic location as the Navy’s only overseas air station enables forces from the United States, Allies and Partner nations to deploy. and respond as needed to ensure security and stability in Europe and Africa.