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WSJ News Exclusive | U.S. Afghan Resettlements Slowed by Housing Shortage, Old Technology

The U.S. push to resettle evacuees is set to take months longer than first expected as a measles scare, a nationwide housing shortage and paperwork delays have slowed the process.

10/18/2021 8:30:00 AM

More than 50,000 Afghans living on military bases around the U.S. are awaiting resettlement to permanent homes. Their slower-than-expected release means they will have to remain for months in cramped barracks where supplies are often stretched.

The U.S. push to resettle evacuees is set to take months longer than first expected as a measles scare, a nationwide housing shortage and paperwork delays have slowed the process.

that would take significant legal assistance to navigate.The Taliban have been trying to project an image of safety and normalcy since retaking power. But as WSJ’s Sune Rasmussen reports from Kabul, harsh punishments, violence, and a crackdown on basic freedoms are becoming the reality. Photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

A series of problems, rather than any single issue, have slowed processing times for Afghan evacuees.A measles outbreakprompted officials at military bases to carry out a broad vaccination campaign, giving refugees a full course of shots for Covid-19, measles and polio—an effort that slowed resettlements for weeks.

Resettlement agencies, which contract with the State Department to help the Afghans, say finding off-base housing is a big challenge. A nationwide housing shortage,coupled with soaring rents, has made it tougher to find landlords to take on potential tenants with no existing income or credit scores.

The agencies had been further limited in where they could look for housing. People receiving services had been required to live within a hundred miles of a resettlement office, which are run by independent organizations working closely with the federal government. That requirement has changed and local affiliates can now service any location, even across state lines, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The Trump administration

shrunk the refugee program significantly, leading roughly a third of the existing 340 offices around the country to close. If the evacuees leave with a family member or friend, they sometimes risk losing resettlement benefits offered by the government.

“Some of the places where there are sizable Afghan communities, like in California and northern Virginia, they’re particularly expensive,” said Melanie Nezer, senior vice president of public affairs at HIAS, one of the resettlement agencies. Another challenge resettlement groups face is simply “the sheer numbers of people who arrived at once,” she said. “Normally refugees would come over a slower period of time.”

Bureaucratic barriers are also a factor. The State Department reactivated an old database system, called Hummingbird, that staff on bases must enter the Afghans into to match them with resettlement slots. But the intake had been done using paper forms, and the information later manually entered into the database, according to officials familiar with the process. “There’s a high rate of human error,” one of the officials said.

A State Department spokeswoman said the system is no longer manual.Once they are matched, the International Organization for Migration, a United Nations agency that coordinates the movement of refugees and migrants, is charged with booking travel from bases to the Afghans’ final destinations. But the organization is understaffed in the U.S., people familiar with the matter said, and in some cases it has booked flights for Afghans but failed to notify resettlement agencies that the people were on their way. The IOM referred requests for comment on its role to the State Department.

“‘It is hard. We can’t start our own lives or send our kids to school. We feel like we are not free.’”— Sahar Mohammad, an Afghan former translator awaiting resettlementSahar Mohammad, a former translator for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, fled Kabul with his wife and five children three days after the Taliban takeover of the city. They flew to Abu Dhabi, where they stayed for two weeks before coming to Fort Dix, a military base in New Jersey.

Conditions on the base were difficult at first, Mr. Mohammad said. The tent he was living in didn’t have doors or soundproof dividers between families, and his family had trouble sleeping with the noise. The tents have since been upgraded, and his family now has a clean, more private room, he said.

Clothing has also been a challenge. Each member of his family was permitted to bring one small bag on the flight out of Afghanistan, and they each packed two sets of summer clothes. But the weather has turned colder in New Jersey and the military hasn’t yet been able to bring them more seasonally appropriate clothing, he said.

“I don’t want to complain because we are in the U.S., and they are trying their best,” he said. “But it is hard. We can’t start our own lives or send our kids to school. We feel like we are not free.”Mr. Mohammad said he would like to move to Northern Virginia, where he knows friends and other former employees of an American contractor he worked for after leaving his military job. But he has been warned that if he leaves the base he might not receive the resettlement services that could help him find a home and assist with rent.

—Nancy A. Youssef contributed to this article. Read more: The Wall Street Journal »

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Trailer Reveals Return of Green Goblin and Electro, but Still No Tobey or Andrew

The second trailer for “Spider-Man: No Way Home” premiered on Tuesday, a little over a month ahead of the Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios co-production’s exclusive theatrical release…

There is no greater joy than having financial stability and a life free of debts, that’s why I keep tweeting about lisamiaBTC it has been a pleasure collaborating with you...there is no other way I can show my appreciation other than tweeting the good deed you have done Sadly 90% of the evacuees were not Afghans that allied with the US during the 20 years. They were regular Afghans that the Taliban permitted on the planes. Americans and its Allies are still trapped in Afghanistan. Dems have 'closed the chapter.'

Any plan can go awry. But to really foul things up, get the government to do it. 100% illegal, insane and inhuman to let 5% developed 20% Christian Colored in Europe and USA 100% owned by 100% developed and 100% Christian Whites LegalProperty-legally owned by LegalPerson-God, His Kingdom or its Subject in own Race and Faith PrimeMinister BREAKING

Who cares?!? Deport them all? Brilliant — most of them didn't do squat to help the US or themselves, but are now being placed in homes & given jobs instead of being placed in shelters and on welfare like they're doing to skilled, qualified & experience Americans. Released prisoners who flooded the airport.

We have 500K homeless. They can hang out for awhile. 50,000? I don’t get it. Was this planned to keep them locked up. Can they deliver pizzas in the meantime? Who is going to pay for their permanent homes? Did they come from Afghanistan with downpayments? What mortgage company will be approving their applications? How will they prove their income. Millions of american home owners want to know.

WSJ News Exclusive | Saks E-Commerce Unit Begins IPO PreparationsSaks is interviewing potential underwriters this week for an initial public offering that could take place in the first half of 2022 and targets a valuation of around $6 billion. Think you mean “planning” not planing

They’re alive and living somewhere that isn’t Afghanistan. We are helping them - that’s more than their own country did. Key emphasis on the fact we are working to *resettle them to permanent homes* Note, a lot of Americans live in cramped space with limited supplies - a lot. cramped barracks with supplies stretched is still often far better than what they left behind The hope it brings is enough to keep them going

Is there something we as Americans can do? I have a lot of good clothing I can donate. Info please Rent them rooms in the White House 🏡 nice They won't have to worry as they making more money now.............................. At least they’re not in Afghanistan, that’s good enough. We can resettle them to Afghanistan

WSJ News Exclusive | Politico’s New Owner Plans to Grow Staff, Launch PaywallAxel Springer plans to eventually put Politico’s content behind a paywall and immediately boost the political-news publisher’s head count by more than 10% once a deal to buy it closes Lol. Garbage takes aren’t worth paying for.

WSJ News Exclusive | Nigeria’s Gangs Raised Millions by Kidnapping Children. Now the Government Can’t Stop Them.In the forests of northwest Nigeria, loosely organized criminal gangs that raised funds kidnapping schoolchildren are now flush with arms and operating beyond the reach of an increasingly fragile state. See the trend in the country..Life's of citizens not secured, the gang's well known and govt is not acting.Why? Same culture, ethnicity & religious affiliation. No peace in the states, systemic & structural failure at all levels of govt. in the country. Wild!!! Going by the fact that the Nigeria security agencies can't track these criminals to retrieve the victims of kidnapping. Buhari is on the right part to the failure of the British contraption. You need to understand that they don’t necessarily steal government ammunition. The government empowers them with the ammunition. Buhari invited the bandits in 2015 to destabilize the country if he didn’t we the elections. He is allowing them to fester till 2023 to ensure 1/3…

Afghan Shias fearful amid deadly mosque attacks'We are very worried, the situation has become very bad for minorities' Shia Muslim community members in Afghanistan's Kandahar province express concern over the country's security situation following two deadly attacks on mosques in the last two weeks shias in both both afg & pakistan r not at all safe. Elhamdullilah for the Taliban who kill and capture those DAESH that blow up mosques. you had some characters left in your tweet to specify who is bombing them. Yet you chose to remain ambiguous. And Allah knows what you make clear and what you conceal. Allahu Alaam. Hazaras project must be revived ! Lobbying for them as much as you can.

US offers to pay relatives of 10 killed in botched Afghan drone strikeThe United States said Friday it has offered to pay unspecified compensation to relatives of 10 people in Afghanistan including seven children who were killed by mistake in a US drone strike as American forces were completing their withdrawal. WHAT about the millions you have MURDERED in your 20 year long ILLEGAL WAR? Who is going to compensate them? The country you destroyed? The rare earth minerals, opium you have stolen, WHO is going to pay for that? Our kids who died in those ILLEGAL wars? What about them?

Young Afghan woman, separated from family in US, pleads for help getting outAn Afghan woman's family came to the US on her father's special immigrant visa, but having aged out of the program to qualify as a child, she's now pleading for help out. ABC. This article is misleading. This woman had been trying to get out since 2018. It has nothing to do with the exit that happened In August. You put this down here so people would blame the current administration. We demand safety of Bangladeshi Hindus. ✊ StopCommunalAttack SaveBangladeshiHindus BangladeshiHinduWantSafety WeDemandSafety WeDemandJustice SaveHindus SaveHinduTemples SaveOurCommunity Kashmir seeks attention