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Wausau Refugee Resettlement Agency Helping Many Families

Tuesday, January 24th, 2023 -- 9:01 AM

(By Rob Mentzer, Wisconsin Public Radio) In its first year of operations, a central Wisconsin refugee resettlement agency has helped 160 people from Afghanistan and other nations find homes in Wausau, Stevens Point or Marshfield. 

According to Rob Mentzer with Wisconsin Public Radio, agency leaders said employers in the labor-challenged region have embraced the new arrivals, and some have contacted the nonprofit to request job interviews with the refugees.

At a celebration last week of the Wausau Multicultural Community Center's first year, individuals and families who had settled in the region thanked their communities for helping them, and agency leaders outlined plans to place roughly another 150 refugees in the region in 2023.

The creation of Wausau's refugee resettlement agency began before the U.S. withdrew troops from Afghanistan in 2021, but that event caused an "extraordinary" increase in the need for new settlements, said Tsehaye Teferra, founder and president of the Ethiopian Community Development Council, a Virginia-based nonprofit for which the Wausau agency is one of about two dozen settlement organizations nationwide.

About 60 refugees from Afghanistan arrived in central Wisconsin in January 2022, part of a nationwide wave of arrivals in the wake of the U.S. military's withdrawal. More recently, the agency has settled families from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Guatemala.

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