Politics and Government

More than 8,000 Afghan refugees at Wisconsin's Fort McCoy

US Afghanistan
In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force loadmasters and pilots assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, load people being evacuated from Afghanistan onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug. 24.
MSgt. Donald R. Allen | AP file

More than 8,000 refugees from Afghanistan were being temporarily housed at Fort McCoy in western Wisconsin as of Friday and the military base has a capacity to host up to 13,000 as they are resettled across the country, a military official said Friday.

The base, located about east of La Crosse, Wis., and the Minnesota border, is one of three in the U.S. processing Afghan refugees since the Taliban took control after the United States withdrew.

Military officials initially said Fort McCoy would temporarily house up to 10,000 refugees, but they are now expanding that count to 13,000. The number of Afghans there currently has nearly tripled in a week.

Fort McCoy
A sign is seen at Fort McCoy, Wis., in 2011. The military base has the capacity to support up to 13,000 refugees.
Alex Kolyer | MPR News 2011

As of Friday, there were 8,780 Afghan refugees at the base, said Cheryl Phillips, a spokesperson for a task force overseeing the refugees at Fort McCoy. About 1,390 soldiers are supporting them, she said.

The base has the capacity to support up to 13,000 refugees, she said.

Many of those at the base also require medical care, a senior Army official representing Task Force McCoy and a State Department official said during a telephone briefing Thursday. The officials spoke with members of Wisconsin news outlets with the understanding that they would not be named.

Army medical personnel are being assisted by civilian health care workers, in addition to Red Cross workers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Some of those needing a higher level of care are being sent to area hospitals.

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