SPARTA, Wis. (AP) — A large number of Afghan refugees will soon be leaving Fort McCoy for resettlement across the country, according to a federal official at the base.

The evacuees from Afghanistan began arriving at Fort McCoy in Monroe County four weeks ago and with more than 12,000 refugees, the base is near capacity.

The U.S. State Department’s task force leader at the fort, Skye Justice, said efforts so far have focused on meeting the Afghans’ immediate needs, such as health care or legal help to complete immigration paperwork. But now, Justice says the focus will turn to resettlement.

“The exact amount of time that a family will spend at Fort McCoy will vary from family to family. But we are now at a point at Fort McCoy where we anticipate that larger numbers of people will begin leaving the fort,” Justice said.

Most evacuees arrived in large groups on military or charter aircraft at Volk Field. Justice said they will be leaving the base to resettle with their family or as individuals, some using local airports, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

Sponsors in their new community will help the families start their new lives.

“Everyone will have assistance with housing, securing a place to stay, their immediate needs for food,” Justice said. “Sponsors cook meals for them and take them to the grocery store. They help ensure that they are received and set up in their new community, that they know things like where to find the bus or where the local schools are located.”

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