One Afghan woman gave birth midair aboard a massive C-17 military plane evacuating people from Kabul, and two other women gave birth shortly after their flights landed, US Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed on Tuesday.
The two babies delivered on the ground were assisted by staff at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, an American-operated military hospital within Ramstein Air Base in southwest Germany.
“I am told that moms and dads and babies are all fine and healthy, and all is looking good there,” Kirby told reporters.
He did not know whether the children would automatically be granted American citizenship. HuffPost’s request for comment from the State Department was not immediately returned.
US Army captain Erin Brymer was on hand to assist one of the Afghan women at Ramstein Air Base. She told the military newspaper Stars and Stripes that “it was the coolest moment of my life”.
The woman she assisted was on a flight that originated in Qatar, which has given temporary housing to thousands of refugees as the Taliban swiftly moves to take control over Afghanistan after a two-decade interval. She was sitting on a shawl near the doors of the military plane while four other Afghan women held up shawls to give her privacy, Brymer told Stars and Stripes.
“It looked just like the picture in the news,” Brymer told the outlet. “It was a plane full of 300 people sitting on the ground.”
The Army captain helped the woman welcome a newborn girl.
“I was just trying to make eye contact with her and let her know that everything was OK, that she can deliver this baby safely and that we were ready for her,” Brymer said, adding that she has been “shocked” at the “sheer number” of pregnant Afghan women at the base.
US forces are currently transporting some Afghan refugees to four military bases: Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, Fort Lee in Virginia, Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. However, the process for obtaining a Special Immigrant Visa ― a programme the US recently expanded in light of the Afghanistan crisis to help those who aided the US military ― is slow.
President Joe Biden pledged on Sunday to give all Afghan allies a home in the United States after they had been vetted at bases in other countries.
“We will welcome these Afghans who have helped us in the war effort over the last 20 years to their new home in the United States of America,” Biden said from the White House, adding: “Because that’s who we are. That’s what America is.”
Taliban leaders initially promised safe passage for anyone wishing to leave Afghanistan. But in recent days deadly violence has played out among the crowds of people waiting outside the Kabul airport ― the last spot held by Western forces — and on Tuesday Taliban leaders told everyone waiting there to go home.
Afghanistan’s neighbor Tajikistan has pledged to take in up to 100,000 refugees, while countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Australia are offering to take in numbers varying between a few thousand to 20,000 people.