PHILADELPHIA — The City of Philadelphia provided the following updates regarding Operation Allies Refuge PHL: 

Evacuees: On August 28, 2021, the City reports that 505 total evacuees came through PHL via two aircraft. On August 29, 2021, several hundred more evacuees are anticipated to arrive on three aircraft, however this remains fluid and is subject to change. Moving forward, the City will report total daily evacuee arrivals on Twitter @PhiladelphiaGov. (You can follow important updates using #OperationAlliesRefugePHL.) 

Services Provided: An array of City, state, and federal agencies as well as local hospitals and non-profit partners are in Terminal A-East providing the following services after evacuees deplane and are cleared by customs: 

  • Culturally appropriate food, comfort items (like stuffed animals), diapers, and hygiene products
  • A general medical evaluation that includes a required COVID test, physical and mental health support services, and the opportunity to get a COVID vaccination
  • Escort to retrieve luggage
  • Transportation to their next destination 

The City is providing on-site interpretation in Dari, Pashto, Urdu, and Farsi, and has a space in baggage claim for reflection, meditation, prayer and religious observance.

“I’m very pleased with the high level of coordination occurring at PHL Airport to best welcome Afghan evacuees into our country,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “I thank all of the City departments involved as well as state and federal agencies, local hospitals, non-profit partners, and volunteers who have stepped up to aid our Afghan brothers and sisters during this critical time. We anticipate this operation picking up speed in the coming days and appreciate the public’s support by way of volunteering and donating in the recommended ways.”  

MRC Call for Volunteers: Many of the refugees coming to Philadelphia through this operation do not speak English. To communicate with them, the City is asking for help from volunteers who can interpret in Dari, Pashto, Urdu, or Farsi. 

All volunteers who can provide interpretation services are required first to sign up as members of the Philadelphia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). The MRC is a group of more than 2,500 volunteers who serve the City during public health emergencies and large-scale events. 

To sign up, visit the SERVPA website and select “Medical Reserve Corps Organizations” from the drop down menu and then select “Philadelphia MRC” from the secondary menu. The MRC is actively reviewing applications and will be in touch as soon as possible.

Donations: The best way to support relief organizations is through monetary donations to vetted groups that are providing immediate and long-term aid. In Philadelphia, the City’s Office of Immigrant Affairs is working with Nationalities Services Center and HIAS Pennsylvania

If you wish to donate material goods, the United States Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team based at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey has created a list of goods and materials to donate directly to incoming refugees. HIAS Pennsylvania is also accepting in-kind donations.

Please keep in mind that donations are not being accepted at the Philadelphia International Airport at this time. 

Note on terminology: As passengers on arriving flights may include U.S. citizens, U.S. military personnel, visa holders and applicants, lawful permanent residents, and people seeking asylum, the federal government advises using “evacuees” instead of “refugees” to describe arriving passengers. 

B-Roll/Photos: Photos and video are available for media use. Credit: City of Philadelphia.