Afghan evacuees arrive at Loudoun National Conference Center

The first group of Afghan evacuees from Operation Allies Welcome arrived at the National Conference Center on Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday.

A DHS spokesperson had said Monday that the government would not give notice, citing operational security.

“While waiting to be connected with resettlement agencies and partners who will help them settle in their new communities, Afghan evacuees from the NCC will receive support services, be able to apply for their employment authorization documents through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and participate in workshops on U.S. law and civic education,” said Robert J. Fenton, Jr., Intake Response Manager for the Operation Allies “All Afghan evacuees go through a rigorous, multi-tiered screening and verification process before arriving in the United States, they must receive age-appropriate vaccinations and undergo a medical examination, including a testing for COVID-19 We will continue to work closely with state and local partners to ensure that we can continue to relocate our Afghan allies as quickly, safely. ty and successfully as possible.

The National Conference Center until September will be used exclusively as a “safe haven” site for the federal government’s Operation Allies Welcome, the effort to resettle Afghans who have aided the United States during its 20-year war in Afghanistan, their families and others who are particularly vulnerable, such as female teachers, women’s rights activists, judges and prosecutors, journalists and others targeted by the Taliban. About 1,000 people a month could pass through the facility upon arriving in the United States at Dulles Airport and wait to find permanent residence here. Unaccompanied children will not come to the center.

Federal agencies and private sector and nonprofit partners are collaborating with an organization called Welcome.US, a national nonprofit initiative launched in September to channel support from the American public and private sector to newly arrived Afghans and their families. In addition, another program, Sponsor Circles, directly supports Afghans who have come to the United States as part of Operation Allies Welcome. More information at sponsorcircles.org.

Online Q&A scheduled for March 10

County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) and District Supervisor Michael R. Turner (D-Ashburn) will host a Facebook Live Q&A at the shelter site Thursday, March 10 from 3 p.m. at 16 o’clock. will be posted on the Loudoun County government page on Facebook, Facebook.com/LoudounCountyVa.

Questions must be submitted in advance via an online form at loudoun.gov/safehaven. The deadline for submitting questions is noon on March 10. Video of the event will be posted on the county’s Facebook page afterwards.

More information at loudoun.gov/safehaven.