Afghanistan Refugee Gives Birth Aboard U.S. Evacuation Plane

Afghanistan Refugee Gives Birth Aboard U.S. Evacuation Plane

A pregnant woman evacuated from Afghanistan aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane went into labor during the flight and delivered her daughter in the cargo bay after the plane landed in Germany on Saturday.

Medical support personnel from the 86th Medical Group help an Afghan mother and family off a U.S. Air Force C-17, call sign Reach 828, moments after she delivered a child aboard the aircraft upon landing at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 21. (cont..) pic.twitter.com/wqR9dFlW1o

— Air Mobility Command (@AirMobilityCmd) August 21, 2021

The U.S. Air Mobility Command said the woman “went into labor and began having complications” during the flight to Germany from an “intermediate staging base in the Middle East.”

“The aircraft commander decided to descend in altitude to increase air pressure in the aircraft, which helped stabilize and save the mother’s life,” the Air Mobility Command stated.

The baby girl was delivered in the C-17’s cargo bay by airmen from the U.S. 86th Medical Group after the plane landed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. The mother and child were “transported to a nearby medical facility and are in good condition.”

The “intermediate staging base” the pregnant woman passed through was probably either Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar or one of the smaller bases in Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates that is handling overflow from Qatar.

The Pentagon slowed evacuation flights from Afghanistan over the weekend because Al-Udeid Air Base exceeded its capacity for holding refugees. Officials constructed a tent city to hold more refugees at Ramstein in less than two days, consisting of over 150 tents sprouting in a part of the base normally used for aircraft maintenance.

In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jared Caton, 86th Materiel Maintenance Squadron armament maintenance supervisor, carries a cot to a housing pod during Operation Allies Refuge at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021. (Senior Airman Milton Hamilton/U.S. Air Force via AP)

In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jared Caton, 86th Materiel Maintenance Squadron armament maintenance supervisor, carries a cot to a housing pod during Operation Allies Refuge at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, August 22, 2021. (Senior Airman Milton Hamilton/U.S. Air Force via AP)

According to Stars & Stripeson Saturday, officials expect the fenced refugee city at Ramstein to grow until it can handle at least 5,000 inhabitants:

Life in tent city was quiet Saturday. At midday, evacuees lined up for a vegetarian meal served in a to-go box. Some opted for Meals, Ready to Eat, with beef or chicken.

Living areas are separated by gender. Women and children rested on their cots inside an aircraft hangar. Some men sat on picnic benches or on the ground outside. There are tents for nursing mothers and for prayer, with blankets and towels spread on the floors. A barrier erected outside the portable showers was strewn with robes and other clothing. Power outlets were available to charge mobile phones.

Airmen, soldiers and volunteers worked among the tents, picking up trash, serving food, handing out water, keeping security and making sure evacuees were comfortable.

Some of the evacuees living in the Ramstein tent city told Stars & Stripes they were forced to leave their loved ones behind in the chaos swirling around the Kabul airport.

Afghan people gather along a road as they wait to board a U S military aircraft to leave the country, at a military airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021, days after the Taliban’s military takeover of Afghanistan. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images)

“Nobody knows what’s going on. Nobody has answers,” said a retired Afghan army colonel who worked as a translator for U.S. forces.

John Hayward