More than 100 US citizens and green card holders and nine special immigrant visa holders were evacuated from Afghanistan via a private charter flight on Tuesday, according to two organizations involved in the effort.
Project Dynamo and Human First Coalition said in a press release that the group of evacuees were “moved overland, COVID tested, MMR vaccinated, securely housed and evacuated to safety the afternoon of September 28, 2021 at 2:00 P.M. local time.” Among the passengers evacuated from Kabul were 59 children under the age of 18 and 16 under age 3, according to the groups. “We would like to thank the U.S. State Department and the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their cooperation in challenging circumstances to secure the safe return of these U.S. citizens, U.S. Legal Permanent Residents, and Afghan allies,” the press release said. “We would also like to acknowledge the Taliban for facilitating the departure of the aircraft by allowing those who want to depart Afghanistan to do so peacefully.”
Project Dynamo’s co-founder Bryan Stern told CNN Wednesday that they had landed in the UAE but claimed that their follow-on flight to the United States had been denied landing rights in the US. He said they had been “stuck” in the capital of Abu Dhabi and “have been trying to get out.” An administration official noted that this is security protocol. Once the flight landed in the UAE, US government officials had to verify the accuracy of the manifest and the passengers’ travel documents. The official described it as the system working as it should, and that as passengers are verified, they expect them to be rebooked on commercial flights and be able to fly to the United States.
A State Department spokesperson on Wednesday confirmed that “a privately organized charter flight arrived in Abu Dhabi overnight from Kabul.” “Our embassy staff in the UAE has been working around the clock to verify the accuracy of the passenger manifest and is coordinating with DHS/Customs and Border Protection on the ground to ensure the passengers are screened and vetted before they are permitted to fly to the United States,” they said.