Wisconsin Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-04) and Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) are calling for an investigation into the Fort McCoy refugee conditions. In a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, they asked for an investigation into “possible mistreatment and/or neglect.”
Moore and Omar said they were requesting that Austin and others take steps to “ensure the safe and respectful treatment” of the Afghan refugees. They said the refugees have “suffered enough” with “having to leave their country because of threats to their safety and security.”
The letter stated that two main concerns had been raised saying that individuals at Fort McCoy reportedly were:
- Speaking to refugees in a rude condescending manner and staff directly calling refugees animals and/or referring to refugees as animals to other staff
- Families still lacking access to basic necessities, including undergarments and feminine hygiene products
They went on to say that the refugees should be treated with kindness and respect because, “Not only are these families displaced, but they may be scarred by the brutality and barbarity of the Taliban.”
Their letter said, “We urge you to swiftly take action to address these concerns and ensure that any such shortfalls are immediately alleviated and that these vulnerable individuals have access to all their basic needs while they await movement to their final places of refuge in our country.”
As reported by The Wisconsin State Journal, Fort McCoy said in a statement that “the Department of Defense and the team at the base supporting the evacuees are ‘dedicated to treating our Afghan guests with dignity and respect while we care for their needs.’”
The State Journal also reported that two Afghan women complained anonymously about the treatment they had received from Afghan men staying at the base. The women had also touched on long lines for food and a lack of clothing.
Fort McCoy has been experiencing some supply chain issues as they adjust to the thousands of Afghan refugees begging temporarily housed there, but a spokesperson says that it should not be an issue long-term. They also have set up a “robust donation system” to continue to help meet the needs of the Afghans.
Fort McCoy has also been dealing with sickness among the Afghan refugees. As reported by The Wisconsin Daily Star, a measles outbreak occurred among some Afghan refugees who arrived at Fort McCoy. Some also had tested positive for COVID.
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Hayley Tschetter is a reporter with The Minnesota Sun and The Wisconsin Daily Star | Star News Network. Follow Hayley on Twitter or like her Facebook page. Send news tips to [email protected].
Photo “U.S. Army Fort McCoy” by Jonathunder CC BY-SA 3.0.