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Fort McCoy officials respond to allegations of food, clothing shortages

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MADISON (WKOW) — An Afghan refugee said he's been in at Fort McCoy just over two weeks and oftentimes he, along with many other refugees, have gone hungry.

The refugee did not want his name revealed because he fears retribution from the Taliban.

"It is not like that all the time but if you're a little bit late and go to the chow hall. Four or five times it happened, they're out of food or either they have just one other thing, you know, maybe boiled carrots or little bit rice," he said.

The refugee's wife asked that we conceal her name, as well.

"My husband is not a complainer. He's not one of those kind of people that is ungrateful in any shape or form. If anything, you know, he's so grateful to be here," she said.

She also said her husband left Afghanistan right before the suicide attack at the Kabul airport and hopes things improve inside fort McCoy

"The worst, horrible, terrible part was the very exact same place where he actually got in the very next day is where that horrible explosion happened and we lost all those wonderful souls. I am, always super supportive of our government, and I just kind of felt a little ashamed that the refugees were having to go through those problems," she said.

"Most of the people, they just whatever they were wearing, that's all they had," the refugee said.

Some refugees inside Fort McCoy are still wearing the same clothes they left Afghanistan or haven't had a change of clothes in several days according to this refugee.

"If the refugees get dirty and need to wash, that's all they have. They don't have any more clothing to put on, he said. "People need warm clothes at night, it gets a little chilly here."

"To hear that they're going hungry and that they're cold, it's very heartbreaking," she said.

The refugee added he talked with officials at Fort McCoy about his conditions.

"They said we were not expecting you guys to come this soon here and then big numbers. So they were not prepared for so many people," he said.

27 News has reached out several times to the Department of Homeland Security, which is in charge of this operation. Cheryl Phillips, the Director of Public Affairs for the Task Force responded with the following statement:

The health, safety and welfare of all Afghan guests at Ft. McCoy is a top priority for those who are supporting Operation Allies Welcome. The Afghan personnel at Ft. McCoy are receiving housing, medical assistance and culturally appropriate food. The Afghan guests are offered three hot meals per day at assigned dining facilities with options including a protein, carbohydrate option, fruits, vegetables and beverages.  Further, Task Force McCoy leaders routinely visit each of the dining facilities to assess conditions and get feedback from the Afghans who dine there. The interagency team at Ft. McCoy continues making improvements and has routinely adapted food options to meet the preferences of the Afghan evacuees, including having 24/7 “grab and go” options available. The task force remains in open dialogue with the Afghan guests.

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