From his office window, brigadier Joshua Olson can see a daily football match organized by the Afghan children who are temporarily calling his air station home."This is now my family -- a minimum of until they get off our airpatch," Olson, the installation commander at Ramstein air station in Germany, told CNN as we drove past tent after tent. "It's my family and that i need to find out the way to protect them."Ramstein is one among the most important US airbases outside America and has become an important hub for the evacuation from Afghanistan following the Taliban take over. Since August 20, about 106 planes have landed there -- mostly C-17s, their cargo bays full of many evacuees at a time.
The airbase was ready with tents to deal with 10,000 people -- but they quickly filled up."We were maxed out and therefore the flow kept coming. I had to shut a part of the bottom for Afghan evacuees," explains Olson. "Because you cannot put them within the elements. It's 50 degrees outside and raining. i can not put people call at that. Especially kids. So, that was one among the items that inflow and outflow. We were bringing them in faster than we could get them out. and that is hard."
Olson, commander of the 86th Airlift Wing and installation commander at Ramstein air station , speaks with the media on August 26 in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany.As of Wednesday morning, almost 12,000 evacuees had left the airbase, while another 14,900 remained. the amount of evacuees to possess received Ramstein thus far is almost triple the population of the German municipality that hosts the bottom .
Ramstein is additionally where 20 wounded US servicemembers and 10 injured Afghans were flown after a deadly surprise attack outside Kabul airport last week, before being taken to a center five minutes from the bottom .Andrew Landers, commander of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre (LRMC), told reporters Tuesday that they suffered a good sort of injuries according to an explosion, including blast wounds, but also variety of gunshot wounds. a number of the injured required medical intervention onboard and mid-flight the C-17 flights which evacuated them from Kabul.
The 20 US servicemembers have now all been flown to the Reed military center within the US. All were stable and conscious, most were speaking and in relatively good spirits, consistent with Landers.Away from the service members, a complete of 12 babies have now been born to Afghan evacuee families at the LRMC.
The last evacuation plane may have flown out of Kabul, but Ramstein air station still features a sprawling tent city that stretches across its line . Women and youngsters sleep in cots inside the cavernous hangars of the airbase while the lads sleep 40 to a tent. Hot meals are distributed 3 times each day in insulated boxes. Portable toilets and washing stations provide only the foremost basic sanitation.
Beyond providing basic shelter, Olson is arising against new problems all the time. What to try to to , for instance , with all the youngsters . With numerous families, the bottom now has quite 6,000 children.The US State Department has also identified dozens as unaccompanied minors -- some separated from their parents and family within the chaos of evacuation. Olson took CNN to at least one of the few grassy patches on the bottom to ascertain the "Kinder Pod," complete with footballs and a play area."One of our biggest issues has been baby wipes and formula," he said, adding that plane crews reported running out of diapers on evacuation flights to Ramstein air station . "Who would have thought that?"
The hardest part for many evacuees is that the wait, uncertainty and inability to speak with relations back home.Donia Laali is one among those waiting. She fought her way into Kabul airport and pulled her family to safety, all seven of them women."We just decided to undertake , my family tried. Because we are all women. There are not any men with us. My two brothers are still within the US. So, we are getting to attempt to reach them," Laali tells CNN.
Sitting with other women just outside of an airplane hangar with a sea of military cots inside, Laali says that her seven relations were opened up across three different sections of the camp, unable to speak with one another ."Sometimes, it feels not that fair for us," Laali said, describing her frustration at the camp conditions. "But once I realize that i'm safe here, from the Taliban, I'm okay. once I feel safe here, it means everything on behalf of me ."
Evacuees from Afghanistan are seen at a short lived emergency shelter at the Ramstein air station on August 26.
Ramstein's enormous Hangar 5 has been transformed into a makeshift international airport terminal , complete with security screening and check-in. Evacuees are guided through by a mixture of military and consular officers.
Passengers get yellow wristbands at check-in then get their luggage weighed. Whole lives, packed into backpacks, cloth bundles or flimsy plastic bags, are carefully weighed on a scale and tagged. One volunteer group gives children colorful backpacks crammed with toys and coloring books for the flight.Even here, as evacuees wait to board their flights to the US, there's a mixture of emotions.As he waited to check-in, 25-year-old Asadullah Sadiqi showed us a bruise on his face, the remains of a black eye he said was given to him by Taliban soldiers at Kabul airport.