Philly welcomes over 500 Afghan evacuees, and more are coming soon

Afghan refugees arrive at PHL airport.

Evacuees stand in line after arriving to the U.S. via Philadelphia International Airport. (City of Philadelphia)

Hundreds of evacuees have made it to Philadelphia as part of a mission to welcome people fleeing Afghanistan in the wake of the United State’s withdrawal from the country and the Taliban’s near-immediate takeover.

Philadelphia International Airport’s Terminal A-East transformed into a welcome center over the weekend, providing food and toiletries, COVID-19 testing, and mental health services to evacuees. Saturday saw 505 people arrive via two aircraft, with hundreds more expected Sunday.

The latest arrivals come amid what Secretary of State Antony Blinken described as “the most dangerous time in an already extraordinarily dangerous mission.”

A U.S. drone strike on Sunday blew up a vehicle carrying “multiple suicide bombers” from Afghanistan’s Islamic State affiliate, U.S. officials said, before they could attack the ongoing evacuation at Kabul’s international airport.

A sign welcomes Afghan refugees at PHL airport.
A sign at Philadelphia International Airport welcomes evacuees to the U.S. (City of Philadelphia)

Mayor Jim Kenney said the city anticipates “Operation Allies Refuge PHL” to pick up speed in the coming days.

Philadelphia officials previously put out a call for translators to assist displaced Afghans arriving in the U.S. Anyone who speaks Dari, Pashto, Urdu, or Farsi, can sign up to volunteer with the Philadelphia Medical Reserve Corps.

City officials reiterated that the best way to support relief organizations is through monetary donations to vetted groups providing immediate and long-term aid.

Among those assisting with resettlement efforts include the Nationalities Service Center and HIAS Pennsylvania. People interested in helping newly-arrived Afghans may contact those groups for more information.

For those interested in donating material goods, HIAS Pennsylvania is accepting in-kind donations. The United States Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team based at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey has also created a list of goods and materials to donate directly to incoming refugees.

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal