Former Del. governor tapped by Biden to coordinate Afghan evacuee resettlement

Then-Delaware Gov. Jack Markell awaits the arrival of President Barack Obama on Air Force One at New Castle Air National Guard Base in New Castle, Del., Saturday, June 6, 2015, before attending a funeral for Beau Biden. (AP Photo/Emily Varisco)

Then-Delaware Gov. Jack Markell awaits the arrival of President Barack Obama on Air Force One at New Castle Air National Guard Base in New Castle, Del., Saturday, June 6, 2015, before attending a funeral for Beau Biden. (AP Photo/Emily Varisco)

The process of coordinating resettlement for thousands evacuated from Afghanistan in recent weeks is now the responsibility of former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell.

President Joe Biden named Markell to the newly created position of Operation Allies Welcome Coordinator. The operation is the Department of Homeland Security’s mission to secure homes for Afghans who escaped the Taliban.

Evacuees are first brought to U.S. military bases for initial processing which includes testing for COVID-19. Starting last month, some of those evacuees have been arriving at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. They’ve also been taken to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, Fort Bliss in Texas, and Fort Lee in Virginia.

More than 2,300 have come through Philadelphia International Airport as of earlier this week. The city’s Office of Emergency Management expects to be helping Afghans arriving at the airport through mid-September.

Markell will work to coordinate the administration’s resettlement policy and engage with both state and local governments, as well as the private sector and non-governmental organizations

“Our former governor is a great selection by President Biden to lead this incredibly important mission to resettle Afghan refugees in the U.S.,” said current Del. Governor John Carney. “Delaware stands ready to support this effort in any way possible.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware shared Carney’s enthusiasm.

“Gov. Markell is a dedicated and capable public servant with the experience, intelligence and character to skillfully coordinate what will be a challenging nationwide effort to ensure our Afghan partners from America’s longest war are safely resettled in the United States,” Coons said. “I look forward to supporting him in this work and to helping rebuild our nation’s capacity to welcome evacuees.”

Jewish Family Services, the state’s coordinator for refugee resettlement, has been preparing should the state be called on to help the evacuees.

Markell was elected to his first of two terms as Delaware’s governor in 2008. He defeated Carney in a surprise upset in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Earlier this year, Biden, a longtime Delaware native, nominated Markell to serve as ambassador to the international Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, based in Paris. Before becoming governor, Markell also served as Delaware state treasurer. Prior to that, he was a senior vice president at Comcast and Nextel Communications.

Since leaving elected office in 2017, Markell has stayed busy, managing his own consulting firm, and serving on several corporate boards.

He’s also delved into songwriting, penning a song about the August 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The song, called “Charlottesville,” features musicians including Lester Chambers, a member of the 1960s psychedelic soul group, The Chambers Brothers.

An avid cyclist, Markell also biked 3,700 miles from Oregon to Delaware, raising $120,000 for Delaware charities helping children along the way.

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