At least 34 unaccompanied Afghan children have arrived in the US, official says

At least 34 Afghan children who were evacuated arrived in the United States without parents, according to an administration official, although some have already been reunited with family in the country.

The children are placed into the care of the Health and Human Services Department, which oversees an expansive shelter network to house minors until they can be reunited with a sponsor, such as a parent or guardian in the US. The unaccompanied children arriving from Afghanistan are placed into that network until they can be relocated.

The figure, first reported by CBS, is small compared to the hundreds of migrant children who are transferred to HHS care daily from the US southern border, though it underscores the frenzied evacuation out of Afghanistan. HHS did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.  

CNN earlier reported about four young siblings who landed in the US on Sunday after hiding in Afghanistan’s capital. They are waiting to be reunite with their mother, who lives in the US.

The administration has implemented additional medical support for vulnerable populations, including unaccompanied children, according to DHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pritesh Gandhi, who was speaking on a call to local and state law enforcement Friday. State health officials, as well as staff from HHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also assisting, he said. 

There is a standardized process for all arrivals from Afghanistan to the United States, which includes Covid-19 testing and potential quarantine. Covid-19 vaccinations are also available at both Dulles and Philadelphia airportts, the airports being used for arrivals. 

“We are acutely aware that this is a vulnerable community who has gone through so much, and will continue to have challenges in terms of access to health care and other services and so we wanted to ensure that Covid vaccinations are available,” Gandhi said for all Afghans arriving in the US. 

Full medical care, including, tuberculosis screening, MMR vaccination and polio vaccination, is available at the military bases, where many Afghans are being temporarily housed in the US. 

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