EDINBURGH, Ind. – After calling Indiana home for several weeks, more than 3,000 Afghan evacuees have left Camp Atterbury to permanently resettle throughout the United States.
“It has been a fantastic team effort” that has helped Afghan evacuees get “from a rather chaotic situation to a situation where they have hope for the future,” Colonel Mike Grundman, Camp Atterbury’s installation manager, told reporters in a media update on Tuesday .
“Safe Harbor” is one of eight Department of Homeland Security-designated locations across the country helping provide temporary housing for those who escaped the sudden Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. Many are Afghan nationals who served as translators and advisers to the U.S. Army during the 20-year war in Afghanistan.
To date, more than 82,000 Afghan evacuees have arrived in the United States across the various sites, said Aaron Batt, federal coordinator for the Dept. of Homeland Security, Tuesday.
Of those, 7,200 came to Camp Atterbury.
“We have never on Hoosier land done anything of this size and scope,” Governor Eric Holcomb said Tuesday.
About half of Camp Atterbury’s population has resettled across the country, but about 4,100 people are still there. In Indiana, the operation is both unprecedented – and emotionally charged.
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“My journey was long and scary,” Nahid Sharifi told reporters. She thinks emotionally about the family members she was separated from in Afghanistan, but she is eager to resettle and study at Indiana University in Bloomington.
“I’m very excited to (start) my new life in Indiana,” Sharifi said. “People in the United States have a heart of gold.”
The base does not plan to take in more evacuees, officials said, and they hope to have everyone resettled by the end of the year – though the timeline may change as the holiday approaches.