As international humanitarian groups warn that Russia’s invasion could trigger a major exodus from Ukraine, some refugee resettlement leaders in the United States have called on the Biden administration to prepare a welcome. who fled for their lives.
“It would be our moral imperative to welcome Ukrainian refugees, as we have for decades,” said David Duea, president of the Northwest branch of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugees Authority. The agency has resettled thousands of Ukrainians in Oregon and Washington.
He added, “I really feel that this is coming.”
But there is concern that the US refugee program, which has been under pressure to take in more than 70,000 evacuees from Afghanistan who arrived last year, will not be able to handle the other large numbers of evacuees.
Nine nonprofit groups assigned by the State Department to resettle refugees in communities in the United States have attempted to integrate thousands of Afghan families liberated from military bases in recent weeks. Organizations have been drained of funding and forced to downsize significantly after former President Donald J. Trump reduced refugee numbers during his tenure.
“Currently, our capacity to resettle, which has been reduced under the Trump administration, is limited to the limit,” said Bill Frelick, director of the Foundation’s refugee and migration rights division. Human Rights Watch said.
He suggests that resettling Ukrainians in the United States, a laborious process that includes screening and interviews, should not be the first choice. Instead, he said, the focus should be on helping neighboring Ukraine prepare quickly to assist refugees in immediate need of protection and shelter.
“The establishment of camps, if necessary in places like Poland, will be much more urgent than planning for the resettlement of refugees during this period of emergency,” he said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/world/europe/ukraine-refugees-united-states.html Refugee resettlement leaders urge Biden to welcome Ukrainians