Afghan Evacuee Flights From Germany, Qatar Halted at Recommendation of CDC

Flights from Germany and Qatar for Afghan evacuees to the United States have been halted at the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after discovering a limited measles outbreak among refugees.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol made the decision to halt the flights from two main overseas bases for unspecified "health safety concerns," according to a U.S. government document seen by the Associated Press.

According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, the temporary halt was in response to measles cases among four Afghan refugees who arrived in the United States. American officials have warned the delay will have a severe impact on evacuation efforts.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

U.S. Base Germany
Flights from Germany and Qatar for Afghan refugees heading to the U.S. have been halted at the recommendation of the CDC. Above, refugees from Afghanistan are seen at a temporary camp at the U.S. Army's Rhine Ordnance Barracks on August 30, 2021, in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images

The government document viewed by the AP said the halt would "severely impact" operations at Ramstein Air Base in Germany and have an "adverse effect" on the nearly 10,000 evacuees, many of whom it said have been there more than 10 days and are increasingly fatigued.

It was the latest problem in the Biden administration's rushed, chaotic and often violence-plagued evacuation of tens of thousands of Afghans and Americans and other foreigners from Afghanistan, which peaked with a more than two-week military airlift out of the Kabul airport. That shut down on August 30, when American troops withdrew. Thousands of Afghan evacuees remain in third-country transit sites, before being moved to the United States or other countries.

The halting of the flights is a problem for the United States in part because many of the evacuees already have been at the Ramstein base longer than the 10-day limit Germany set in allowing the U.S. to use the country as a transit site.

Germany and Qatar, along with Spain, Kosovo, Kuwait and other countries, agreed to temporarily host U.S. processing sites for evacuees after Kabul fell, after allies initially balked over worries of getting stuck with U.S. security problems.

Processing at many of the transit sites largely appears to be taking place in a peaceful and orderly fashion. That follows a suicide bombing and other attacks and violent incidents during the U.S.-run evacuation in Kabul, which killed more than 180 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members.

National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said Friday that 32 Americans and U.S. green-card holders had left Afghanistan on Friday, 19 on a Qatar Airways flight and 13 others by land. It was only the second such evacuation flight allowed by the Taliban since U.S. troops left.

The U.S. government believes about 100 American citizens remain in Afghanistan, a State Department spokeswoman, Jalina Porter, said.

It was the same number the U.S. had given before the latest evacuation flights took out Americans. Porter said she could not immediately explain why the number had not changed.

Afghan Refugees Germany
The U.S. halted flights for Afghan refugees from Germany and Qatar to the U.S. on the recommendation of the CDC. Above, Afghan refugees are processed inside Hangar 5 at the Ramstein U.S. Air Base in Germany on September 8, 2021. Olivier Douliery/Pool Photo via AP