First group of Afghan evacuees arrive at Fort Pickett Saturday

Local News

BLACKSTONE, Va. (WRIC) — The first arrival of Afghan refugees at Fort Pickett took place Saturday.

Due to security reasons, a spokesperson for Fort Pickett told 8News they cannot share how many evacuees have arrived and at what time they have arrived.

Gov. Ralph Northam said at least 3,800 people could be temporarily housed at Fort Pickett with capacity there expanding up to 10,000 if necessary.

Northam extended his condolences right after the attacks near the Kabul International Airport Thursday.

“When we sign up to serve in the military, we know that it’s a very dangerous job and we also know that we live in a very dangerous world,” he said. “My heart goes out to the soldiers and their families.”

Multiple attacks happened this week at the hands of an Islamic State Group affiliate in Afghanistan.

Crowds of people escaped to the airport after the Taliban took control of the war-torn country a few weeks ago.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) reacted Thursday to the events that have unfolded.

“I’ve got a lot of questions about why we weren’t better prepared for the Taliban takeover,” he said.

The U.S. military fired back at the Islamic State Group on Saturday by killing two of its members with a drone airstrike.

Warner told 8News Wednesday that all the evacuees will be properly taken care of.

“These folks are going to be checked multiple times for COVID. They’re going to be offered vaccines,” he said. “If they do come to Fort Pickett, it’ll be like Fort Lee, it’ll be a place where they’ll come and then move on elsewhere in the country.”

According to Northam, over 11,000 made it to Virginia as of Thursday. Eight thousand have been processed at Fort Lee.

“We’ll continue to use Fort Lee and if there’s overflow we’re prepared to go to Fort Pickett and also to Quantico,” he said.

He said 1,000 Afghan evacuees are expected to arrive at the Quantico Marine base Sunday and that facility’s capacity could expand to 5,000.

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