FORT LEE — Inside a large tent here, Afghan children swung hula hoops around their hips, kicked soccer balls and solved jigsaw puzzles. Thousands of refugees from Afghanistan have come to Fort Lee for short-term medical care and visa processing as they prepare to find a permanent home in the United States, Sen. Tim Kaine said Monday. Many of them are children.
The refugees are often young parents and their families, which often are large. One woman gave birth on the bus en route to Fort Lee. Another gave birth shortly after arrival.
Nearly every refugee who came to the U.S. landed at Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia. Then they were taken to one of at least seven military installations, where the government intends for them to stay a week or two. Fort Lee in Prince George County, Fort Pickett in Nottoway County and the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico are the Virginia installations, and Fort Lee is the largest among the seven, said Kaine, D-Va.
The refugees arrived during a mission known as Task Force Eagle. They have experienced trauma and are nervous and afraid, Kaine said, but they’re also excited to restart their lives in the U.S.
“I wish the American public could see the scenes that I just saw and hear the stories I just heard,” Kaine said. Media were not allowed near the refugees on Monday – they didn't need cameras in their faces.