Qatar warns US of crises at bases housing Afghans: report

TEHRAN, Aug. 25 (MNA) – Qatari officials are warning their American counterparts that the situation at US facilities, where thousands of Afghan evacuees are being housed.

Tens of thousands of Americans, Afghans and other foreigners have been evacuated from Kabul's international airport to US military installations in Qatar, a key US partner in West Asia that has received public shout-outs from President Joe Biden and his top officials.

But privately, Qatari officials are warning their American counterparts that the situation at US facilities, where thousands of Afghan evacuees are being housed, is growing more dire, according to an internal State Department report obtained by ABC News.

Some Afghans and Americans who have been housed at the bases have spoken publicly about the lack of space, food, and water or facilities. But the urgent warnings from Qatari officials to their American counterparts speak to how thin-stretched facilities have become -- and the risks that it entails, including for human trafficking.

Asked about conditions on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the administration was "aware" of issues, but "worked quickly to improve" them.

PHOTO: A U.S. Air Force Airman guides evacuees toward a U.S. Air Force C-17 plane during evacuations from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan, Aug. 24, 2021.

In meetings, Monday, Qatar Foreign Ministry officials were expressing concerns about "deteriorating health and security conditions" and over-crowding at Al Udeid Air Base and Camp As Sayliyah, according to the internal report.

In particular, Lolwah al Khater, a Qatari assistant foreign minister, told US Ambassador John Desrocher that both bases "had hit maximum capacity to house in a safe and secure manner" and warned of "growing crises" at each.

Both Qatari bases include US military installations that are hosting thousands of evacuees, although the pressure on them has decreased in recent days as more US allies accept evacuation flights, especially Germany.

Qatari officials were especially concerned about Al Udeid's "ill-famed 'Afghan hangar,'" according to the internal report, which houses some 4,500 Afghans. There are another 4,000 Afghans at Camp As Sayliyah, where the Qatari officials warned there were "increased tensions among the Afghan population," according to the report, which provided no other details.

Khalifa Jassim al Kuwari, Qatar's foreign aid and development chief, also "doubted that the USG (U.S. government) had sufficient personnel, food, medicine at CAS (Camp As Sayliyah) to care properly for Afghans there," the report said he told U.S. officials.

The U.S. facility there lacks sufficient toilets and basic sanitation, the Qatari officials told their American counterparts. In fact, Qatar's Red Crescent Society had already provided mobile shower trucks and hygiene kits in recent days to help address the desperate needs, and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs arranged for cleaning services.

PHOTO: An overview of crowds at a gate to Kabul's airport in Afghanistan, Aug. 23, 2021, from a satellite image.

Qatar also has safety concerns.

Al Khater told US officials there was a "danger of human trafficking in such circumstances and highlighted the cases of unaccompanied minors coming from Kabul," according to the internal report.


News Code 177781


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