By TODD RICHMOND, Related Press
FORT MCCOY, Wis. (AP) — Reporters got a glimpse Thursday of Afghan refugees’ lives on a Wisconsin Military publish, attending to see the brand new arrivals enjoying soccer with troopers and toting groceries to the barracks the place they’re being housed as they wait for his or her new lives in America to essentially start.
The U.S. Military and the Division of State led a gaggle of journalists on a tightly-controlled tour of Fort McCoy, a coaching publish about 150 miles (241 kilometers) northwest of Milwaukee.
The fort is considered one of eight army installations throughout the nation which are quickly housing the tens of 1000’s of Afghans who had been pressured to flee their homeland in August after the U.S. withdrew its forces from Afghanistan and the Taliban took management. Practically 13,000 had been despatched to Fort McCoy, the place they have been acclimating to the U.S. and present process background checks earlier than federal officers assist them relocate to extra everlasting houses.
Questions on situations on the publish have come to the forefront in current weeks, with Democratic U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore and Ilhan Omar calling for an investigation after the Wisconsin State Journal reported that many Afghans hadn’t obtained new garments and needed to endure lengthy traces for meals. Some Republicans, in the meantime, questioned whether or not the refugees had been being correctly vetted after considered one of them was charged with having sexual contact with a minor and one other was charged with assaulting his spouse.
Officers on Thursday took turns telling reporters that every one was nicely on the publish. They walked reporters between the rows of barracks housing the evacuees, stopping to observe a pickup soccer sport between Afghans and troopers. Youngsters had been in all places — Brig. Gen. Christopher Norrie stated they make up almost half the refugees on the fort — they usually wore all method of clothes, from their native garb to flip-flops, shorts and parkas.
Households laid out clothes on fences to dry. The barracks have warmth and scorching water and the publish provides eight self-serve laundromats, however Norrie stated washing and drying garments at house is a bonding occasion for Afghans.
The sidewalks had been coated with kids’s chalk drawings. Reporters had been allowed to briefly observe a category by which Afghans of all ages had been studying the right way to use English to purchase one thing at a retailer.
Adults carried baggage of meals dwelling from the posts’ delis. Clusters of males watched the reporters move by from the barracks’ porches, whereas others watched by means of their home windows. Teams of kids smiled and laughed because the entourage handed.
Officers took reporters by means of a clothes donation middle filled with Afghan girls selecting issues for his or her kids to put on. Additionally on the tour was a well being clinic and one of many publish’s 4 cafeterias which are obtainable to the evacuees. The power resembled a highschool cafeteria, with rows of tables and chairs. The lunch entrée was hen curry together with bananas, oranges and different fruits.
Navy officers stated the refugees have been divided into eight “neighborhoods” that every have their very own mosque. The Islamic Society of Milwaukee has donated Qurans, they stated. Put up leaders have been assembly with refugee management councils weekly, stated Lt. Col. Joe Mickley.
The evacuees do not wish to dwell as wards of the U.S. authorities and as a substitute wish to contribute to society, he stated.
“All of them see themselves as the subsequent American dream, which is feasible,” Mickley stated.
A handful of refugees who communicate English and volunteered to talk to reporters beneath Division of State supervision instructed harrowing tales about flying out of Kabul’s airport because the previous regime collapsed.
Khwaga Ghani, a 30-year-old producer for Nationwide Public Radio, stated she was constructing a life in Kabul. She had a home, a automobile and a tight-knit group of mates. She needed to go away all of it behind when the Taliban took over, fleeing to the airport and spending two nights on the runway earlier than she might get a flight.
“I used to be making a life, a residing for myself,” she stated. “I needed to go away the whole lot behind so I might keep alive.”
She has lined up a journalism fellowship on the College of California-Berkley and is solely ready to be launched. She stated she feels protected at Fort McCoy — “I’m a grown-up woman, I can handle myself,” she stated — and that she has the whole lot she wants, however that the boredom is intense.
Sameer Amini, 36, had been a program coordinator on the U.S. embassy. He stated he, his spouse and their two kids, ages 5 and a couple of, needed to courageous quite a few Taliban checkpoints to get to the airport. They arrived to seek out 1000’s of individuals on the runways. They spent two days and two nights, struggling sunburns and freezing after dusk, earlier than they may get on a aircraft.
He is been provided a job as a State Division contractor in Arlington, Virginia, however till he and his household are allowed to depart Fort McCoy, they’re going to don’t have anything to do, he stated.
“(The publish) is snug. It isn’t a house however we now have assets we want,” he stated. “(However) simply ready is boring.”
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