A leaked email described living conditions for Afghan refugees as “a living hell” where “trash, urine, fecal matter, spilled liquids and vomit cover the floors,” Axios reported Tuesday.
In an email with the subject line “Dire conditions at Doha,” Supervisory Special Agent Colin Sullivan sought to make State Department and Pentagon officials aware of “a life-threatening humanitarian disaster” at the Al Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar, according to Axios. The base is also reportedly infested with rats.
“While not in any way downplaying the conditions in Kabul nor the conditions the Afghanis [sic] are escaping from, the current conditions in Doha are of our own doing,” Sullivan said in the email obtained by Axios.
“Conditions at al Udeid [in Qatar] could have been better” for Afghan refugees, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby admits about squalid conditions at air base addressing reports of sanitation and hygiene issues. “Nobody is ducking from this,” Kirby says.
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The Pentagon said over 100 toilets were installed and around 7,000 traditional meals are offered to refugees multiple times a day, Axios reported. However, the State Department hasn’t given the Department of Defense instructions for how to construct facilities that can hold thousands of refugees, a U.S. official told Axios on condition of anonymity since they weren’t allowed to speak on the matter.
“We recognize this is a challenging and difficult situation for these vulnerable individuals and families, and we remain committed to providing a secure, safe and sanitary environment,” said U.S. Central Command spokesperson Navy Capt. William Urban, Axios reported.
“It has been challenging to keep up with the flow, but we have made progress in caring for and safeguarding these vulnerable individuals and in getting them moving onward,” Urban told Axios. (RELATED: Airbnb Offers Free Temporary Housing Across The World To 20,000 Afghan Refugees)
In the leaked email, Sullivan sent a few “excerpts from Doha Embassy staff communications” detailing conditions at the base, Axios reported.
“A humid day today. Where the Afghans are housed is a living hell. Trash, urine, fecal matter, spilled liquids and vomit cover the floors,” one excerpt said, according to Axios. Other accounts reflect that there is no air conditioning in the facilities despite seasonal heat.
Hangars at the airport only have big fans and evaporative “swamp coolers,” an official familiar with the facility told Axios.“It’s brutally hot … the base is in the middle of a desert. There’s nothing around it.”
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