A tale of refugees living in the US Fort McCoy

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Afghan refugees in the U.S military base at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin fear a cold winter ahead as their resettlement process has prolonged.

The snow has covered the Afghan refugee camp in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. Shuttles have been assigned to transport refugees around the camp including taking them to laundry, cafeteria, health clinic, community English learning center and a mini-superstore.

12,600 Afghan refugees were accommodated at Fort McCoy, a US military base in Wisconsin during the months of August and September after the collapse of Kabul in the hands of the Taliban.

According to the reports, around 6,000 people from this camp have been so far resettled after completing the mandatory processes of biometrics, interviews, vaccinations and medical checkups.

The living facilities in the refugee camp look to be in order, winter clothes, snow boots have been distributed to everyone in the camp including women and children.

Many have been frustrated with long-waiting inside the military base, while they were initially told to get resettled to the final destinations between 3 to 4 weeks of time from the arrival dates.

What does a parted family say?

Abdul Waheed Wali, a 60-year-old Afghan-American citizen whose roommates call him Kaka Jawed (Uncle jawed) has returned to the U.S through the emergency evacuation program with his spouse and two sons, says he cannot get out due to the cold and has been frustrated staying in the shared noisy room all day.

The two-story military barracks has accommodated 25 people including women and children in one room.

While reaching Fort McCoy on August 26th, we were told to get resettled within a few weeks, but it has been over 15 weeks now and we neither know when this waiting time could be over, Abdul said.

Abdul had to leave behind his two elder daughters and one son who had gone to Pakistan for healthcare services before the Kabul collapse on August 15th.

60-year-old Afghan refugee fled Kabul as the country collapsed in the hands of Taliban on August 15, 2021. He has temporarily been resettled at Fort McCoy military base in Wisconsin, USA.

“The sudden collapse of Kabul put me in a situation to decide about either staying in Kabul to get reunited with my children or to get the U.S emergency evacuation program opportunity.”, Abdul told The Canada Now.

We would have lost the chance of getting into the United States if we were to wait for my daughters and son to return from Pakistan, he said.

Abdul Waheed Wali and his family have been mentally traumatized following the injury of his son Abdul Rabi in September 2020, when the convoy of Afghan former VP Amrullah Saleh was targeted with a roadside bomb blast.

“My son, Abdul Rabi received a serious injury in his right shoulder as he was present in the incident area”, Abdul said.

The injury’s location is visible now, it indicates a bomb fragment has entered his shoulder and exited from the other side.

Abdul says he wants his children to study and work in the United States and does not want to return back to Afghanistan as he believes the war and violence may not end in the country.

Abdul Wali wishes to get united with his two daughters and one son who have been left behind in Pakistan.

Afghan refugees in the US military camp celebrate 85th birthday of Prince Karim Aga Khan

Celebration of Aga Khan’s 85th birthday

A number of Afghan Ismaili refugees gathered together to celebrate the 85th birthday of their Imam and spiritual leader Prince Karim Aga Khan on Sunday afternoon.

Ismaili families and individuals living at Fort McCoy refugee camp in Wisconsin attended to celebrate the birthday of their present Imam by cutting a birthday cake, talking about his services and guidance to the followers.

Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam and spiritual leader of 15 million Ismailis around the globe who has introduced a moderate face of Islam with a focus on enlightenment, pluralism, education, and economic developments.

Afghanistan Ismailis make less than 5% of the country’s population, however, the religious group has a high contribution to the country’s culture, economy, business, and politics.

Lately, the prominent State Ministry for Peace was represented by an Ismaili.

Female students in exile aiming to contribute in Afghanistan’s future

Over 140 female Afghan students were provided full scholarship to study at the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh, but as the Afghan government collapsed in the hands of the Taliban, their chartered flight to Bangladesh was canceled as they could not make it to get into Kabul airport at the first attempt.

Yasna Kazimi, 23 and Nasiba Hakim 24 spoke to The Canada Now about what they have gone through was walking through the razor blade until they managed to get inside the Kabul airport on August 28th.

The 148 female students succeeded to get into the Kabul airport after 3 failed attempts and staying 3 nights behind the airport entrance gates, they said.

From the right Gulbaiza Ahmadi, Nasiba Hakimi and Yasna Kazimi are the Afghan students who will study in the U.S while filing asylum cases.

“I had a feeling of panic and hopelessness during 13 days of living under the Taliban regime’s governance”, Yasna Kazimi said.

There was nothing else in my mind, but thinking all day about how would I find a way to pursue education for my future dreams, she added.

Yasna is happy for having the opportunity to continue her education in computer science.

Nasiba Hakimi aims to work for Afghan women and girls’ rights after she is done with her studies.

“I believe we all have a responsibility towards the country and we need to give back to it”, Nasiba said.

My priority will be to help Afghan women and girls with their education and work, Nasiba added.

Yasna and Nasiba wish to contribute to Afghanistan’s future after they complete their education at Arizona State University.

The students have been introduced to the state universities in Arizona, Texas, Wisconsin, Chicago, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, Massachusetts and Georgia.

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