In August 2021, the US Armed Forces began a planned withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of war. The Taliban quickly toppled the existing Afghan government, and hundreds of thousands of refugees fled the country. Tens of thousands of these refugees were evacuated to the US.
During August and September 2021, ‘The City of Brotherly Love,” welcomed 25,000 evacuees from Afghanistan through the Philadelphia International Airport. Upon arrival, each refugee required COVID health screenings and medical evaluations.
Safely accepting large numbers of refugees is logistically complicated in general. Add in an ongoing global pandemic, and the situation becomes even more complex. City public health officials knew they needed Dari and Pashto interpreters to welcome the evacuees and conduct screenings in their own languages. Additionally, turnaround time was a challenge: the City had only 48 hours' notice before the first wave of evacuees arrived at the airport.