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Kabul NEO > Lily Pads > Kosovo

A small number of Afghan evacuees have been transported to Camp Bondsteel. Kosovo has agreed to temporarily house about 2,000 Afghans. Afghan evacuees destined for other European nations are being housed at another location near Camp Bondsteel. The evacuees are housed at one of two camps. During their stay they receive housing, medical, and logistical support from the camp staff.

Map of Kosovo

Camp Liya is inside the U.S. military base known as Camp Bondsteel and is administered by U.S. forces. The camp is staffed by members of Task Force Ever Vigilant (TFEV), consisting of soldiers from varous units across the 21st Theater Sustainment Command. The 18th Military Police Brigade and 15th Engineer Battalion provided personnel to Task Force Ever Vigilant. Camp Liya is located on top of a hill at Camp Bondsteel. The small camp is named after a young Afghan child that was famously seen being handed to U.S. Marines over a fence at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in August 2021 during the Kabul NEO.

Aerial view of Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo
Aerial photo of Camp Bondsteel, KFOR, Task Force Falcon PAO, 2000.

Camp Liya has large tents with beds, shower facilities, bathrooms, a dining hall, a mosque, and an administrative tent for various meetings. There is a large space for indoor games, activities, and a fitness center for the Afghan travelers.

Camp Bechtel is located on the premises of the Bechtel Enka company and is administered by NATO. It is staffed with members from NATO's High-Readiness Response Force.

During a DoD press conference held on October 25, 2012, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby stated:

So what I can tell you is weve surged resources, and weve deployed some additional personnel from relevant departments and agencies overseas to Camp Bondsteel to effectively vet individuals who require further processing before onward movement. And there are a range of Afghan evacuees at Bondsteel to include many Afghan families, women, and children, whove weve definitely prioritized being able to keep them together.

I think its also important to remember that all individuals have to pass our security screening and vetting process and receive the necessary vaccinations before proceeding with their onward travel to the United States. So per our agreement with the government of Kosovo, we will we relocate Afghans that are housed at Bondsteel to the United States or a third country within 365 days. And again, for more questions on that, Id point you to the National Security Council.

Afghan Evacuees at Camp Liya, Kosovo

Photo: American Ambassador Philip Kosnett visted Afghan evacuees at Camp Liya. Photo U.S. Embassy Prishtina, Sep 2021.


Camp Bondsteel - Wikipedia

Afghan Evacuees Depart Kosovo for US

Photo: U.S.-affiliated Afghans depart Pristina International Airport in Kosovo, Oct. 16, 2021. During their temporary stay at Camp Liya, Afghan families received housing, medical and logistical support from Task Force Ever Vigilant, consisting of soldiers with the 15th Engineer Battalion and the 18th Military Police Brigade of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command. Photo by Army Sgt. Gloria Kamencik, Oct 16, 2021.

News Articles about Afghan Evacuees in Kosovo

September 2022, "U.S. in Talks With Suriname to Take Afghans Stranded in Kosovo", by Jessica Donati, The Wall Street Journal. Washington is looking to send evacuees to South America who don't qualify to enter the U.S. Most Afghans sent to Camp Bondsteel came from other 'lily pads'; after it was determined that they needed additional screening.

January 21, 2022. "Afghans Housed at Military Base in Kosovo Risk Being Denied Entry to U.S. for Alleged Terrorist Ties", by Gordon Lubold and Jessica Donati, The Wall Street Journal.

December 31, 2021. "Afghan evacuees remain at base in Kosovo for additional screening", Stars and Stripes.

October 27, 2021. Some Afghans who got on the initial evacuation planes out of Kabul airport have not passed some of the extra screening checks being conducted at the 'lily pads' - the first stop the evacuation planes made in the Middle East. These Afghans are now being temporarily held in Kosovo. Critics of the evacuation say standard screening steps were bypassed during the chaotic evacuation effort in August. "Republican Lawmakers Question Vetting Standards for Afghans Brought to U.S.", The Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2021.

October 26, 2021, "Camp Bondsteel: A Piece of the Afghan Resettlement Puzzle", Clearance Jobs.

October 25, 2021, "Flagged Afghan evacuees quietly sent to US base in Kosovo", Washington Examiner.

October 24, 2021, "Secrecy shrouds Afghan refugees sent by US to base in Kosovo", Military Times.

October 23, 2021, "U.S. Struggles With Afghan Evacuees Weeded Out, and Now in Limbo", The New York Times. No final decisions have been made, but dozens red-flagged for apparent criminal pasts or links to militants have been sent to a base in Kosovo, where their fate is uncertain.

October 1, 2021, "Task Force Ever Vigilant Builds Community at Camp Liya", DVIDS. Article describes the living conditions for the Afghan evacuees as well as the mission of U.S. troops assisting the evacuation.

September 16, 2021, "More Than 100 Afghan Evacuees Leave Kosovo for Britain", Gandhara.

September 16, 2021. "NATO Afghan Evacuees Begin Journey to Resettlement", JFC Naples. Over 100 NATO Afghan employees and family members began their journey to resettlement in the United Kingdom. They departed on a chartered civilian airline flight from Pristina.

September 16, 2021, "Afghan Evacuees in Kosovo De Facto Detained", Kosovo Two Point Zero. The first group of Afghan evacuees that arrived on August 29th are not being granted the right to move freely and are confined to Camp Bondsteel. Most Afghans who arrive in Kosovo through the difficult Balkan route are able to move about the country and request asylum. They are offered basic amenities, an identification card, and the freedom to move in and out of the asylum housing complex. This is not the case with the 1,000 Afghans on Camp Bondsteel brought there by NATO.

September 4, 2021. "US: Afghan evacuees who fail initial screening Kosovo-bound", Associated Press. Kosovo has agreed to take Afghan evacuees who failed initial security screening and host them for up to a year. This will be a temporary fix for one of the vexing problems resulting from the evacuation of Afghans who were not properly vetted. Some of the evacuees are still in the process of obtaining needed documents and providing all the information required to qualify under U.S. law for immediate entry.

August 29, 2021, "First group of Afghan refugees arrives in Kosovo for temporary shelter", Reuters. The first Afghan arrivals reached Kosovo, many of the 111 evacuees were women and children. They were taken to Camp Bondsteel, about 40 kilometers from Pristina.



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