Democratic congresswomen: Conditions improving for Afghan refugees

Democratic congresswomen from Wisconsin and Minnesota said they are encouraged about conditions for Afghans currently housed at an western Wisconsin military base, though some of the refugees raised questions about trauma-based care and cultural issues.

Rep. Gwen Moore of Milwaukee and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis met Saturday with Afghan women currently housed at Fort McCoy. The representatives toured the base at the request of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition.

“It was for us an interest in doing our oversight work as members of Congress, to try to see what was actually happening here in the military base of Fort McCoy,” Omar said, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Moore and Omar said that during their tour, they saw children playing inside the base and families eating lunch and going about life in the neighborhoods within the base, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

“We were very, very happy when we saw the children running around giving us high-fives and fist bumps,” Moore said. “That’s how we knew everything was OK.”

In addition to the need for trauma-based treatment, the evacuees suggested more emphasis on cultural competency when it comes to the traditions of the Afghan evacuees, such as providing food that aligns with their beliefs.

The base, located between Tomah and Sparta, is housing 12,600 Afghan evacuees, the representatives said. They began arriving in August after fleeing Afghanistan when the Taliban retook control of the country.

Some Republicans have raised concerns that Afghan refugees housed at military bases across the country are not being properly vetted. Moore and Omar said those complaints are unfounded.

“I know there are a lot of people who are fearmongering for political reasons, but these are probably the safest neighbors we can have in our communities,” Omar said, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

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