State department approves refugees to settle in Wausau

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 9:30 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - After state approval on Wednesday, more than 80 refugees will arrive in the Wausau area over the next fiscal year.

The Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) is preparing Wausau to help them get settled. ECDC is a national refugee settlement agency. It’s their job to help diversify rural communities like Central Wisconsin by integrating refugees.

“The need is so great and I think what people need to remember is that these are individuals that did not leave voluntarily, these are individuals that are fleeing violence and have been forced to leave their homes,” ECDC Community Engagement & Communications Officer Emily Gilkinson said.

The group will open a Multicultural Community Center in Wausau as part of the plan. Refugees are expected to arrive in Wausau between January and September 2022. The first 10 people will get here before December. The rest of them will trickle in after the beginning of the year. Right now, the group is working hard to recruit a director, find a location for the center and gain community involvement.

“America has a really long tradition of welcoming people from different backgrounds and really building diverse communities together and so it’s really a joy to see the community of Wausau really stepping up to embrace those values,” Gilkinson said.

ECDC is partnering with the newly formed Wausau group “New Beginnings for refugees” to help get them settled.

New Beginnings is a volunteer group that will educate the public, provide resources to refugees, and helps make refugees fleeing Afghanistan’s violence feel welcomed in Wausau.

“Part of our goal is to really build that community understanding and education so that they can feel truly supported and know that we are a community that welcomes them,” New Beginnings for refugees volunteer Rebecca Voss said. New Beginnings and ECDC are also building co-sponsorship teams. Refugees will be paired with a team to help learn U.S. culture, get food and have a place to stay.

A virtual meeting for the community to learn more about the plan is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 7 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Follow the link to learn more.

correction: It was incorrectly reported that 80 Afghan refugees would be resettled in the Wausau area. That has since been corrected. Not all refugees that ECDC will resettle in Wausau will come from Afghanistan, though many may be included due to the high number of cases getting ready to be resettled. However, ECDC also resettles refugees from other countries around the world.

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