A Department of Homeland Security Inspector General report found that DHS did not effectively fund or staff safe havens for Afghan evacuees following the fall of Kabul in 2021.

Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) saw the United States resettle tens of thousands of Afghans who fled the country following the Taliban takeover at the end of Washington’s botched, 20-year-long conflict with the Taliban.

Initially, the government house those fleeing the restored Islamic Emirate at safe havens on military bases, but the watchdog observed that these facilities were short on both the funding and manpower needed to offer critical services.

“Part of DHS’ responsibility was staffing safe havens at U.S. military installations with enough detailed DHS employees to carry out specific leadership and support roles,” the watchdog wrote. “DHS advertised these detail opportunities to its employees but did not direct components to commit all necessary staff and did not initially receive funding.”

The report also noted that DHS efforts to circumvent the employee shortage through a volunteer program were inadequate as said volunteers did not even receive the minimum logistical support to aid in their efforts.”DHS also recruited employee volunteers through the DHS Volunteer Force (VF),” the inspector general wrote. “However, DHS could not reimburse components for the costs of travel and overtime, making some components reluctant to fund the volunteer deployments and further limiting the number of DHS employees at safe havens.”

“Overall, we determined DHS did not have a structure to support volunteers for unfunded operations such as OAW,” was the watchdog’s conclusion.

The office recommended three improvements to the department, including the development of a framework for coordinating, training, and deploying volunteers.

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