Appleton passes resolution to welcome Afghan refugees

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 10:06 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2021 at 3:19 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - It’s still unclear when the first of an expected 100 Afghanistan refugees will arrive in the Fox Valley.

On Wednesday night, the Appleton City Council passed a resolution to expediate any help they might need in finding housing and other services.

World Relief Fox Valley Director Tami McLaughlin says right now, they’re still awaiting word on when the first group might arrive.

“We do not have a clue. We wish we did. When we find out we will certainly start preparing and gathering all of the partners together and saying it’s okay, time to mobilize but right now we are just in preparation mode and waiting patiently or as patiently as we can,” she said.

In Oshkosh, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is among the first groups hoping to help with the transition.

They’ve been assisting refugees for the past five years.

Spokesperson Khurram Ahmad said, “When the word got around of Afghans coming in and they were coming to Fort McCoy we again, reached out to say what can we do?”

Right now, Ahmad says they’re taking donations for winter clothing, and hoping to help with the expected language barrier many will face.

He added, “There’s a lot of hand holding that is needed and we sign up for those volunteer opportunities and then help them out as needed.”

However, the biggest issue continues to be housing, which Appleton city officials hope to make a priority, according to the wording of the resolution.

“I can tell you that the municipality doesn’t have a quick easy option in terms of addressing housing affordability and availability so that’s going to be a challenge with these refugee resettlements just as it has been for our folks who are already here in the community looking for housing,” said Appleton Mayor Jake Woodford.

During the meeting, others voiced some concerns, including a man who spoke during public comment.

“It has nothing to do with any kind of prejudice at all. It has to do with the safety of the community, and I would like to know as a citizen whether or not these people are property vetted,” he said,

The resolution did pass the council by a vote of 11-2, with Chad Doran and Sheri Hartzeim in opposition.

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