US expected to welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees

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The United States has unveiled plans to welcome up to 100,000 refugees and others fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, including the provision of $1 billion in new humanitarian aid, the White House announced on Thursday.

“Today, the United States is announcing plans to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russia’s aggression,” the White House said in a press release. “The United States is announcing that we are prepared to provide more than $1 billion in new funding toward humanitarian assistance for those affected by Russia’s war in Ukraine and its severe impacts around the world, including a marked rise in food insecurity, over the coming months.”

The United State will also spend an additional $320 million to fund democracy and human rights programs in Ukraine and in the neighboring coun-tries, the release said.

The Biden administration is working to expand and develop new programs with a focus on welcom-ing Ukrainians who have family members in the United States, according to the release.

On February 24, Russia launched a special op-eration in Ukraine after the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk appealed for help in defending themselves intensifying attacks from Ukrainian troops. The United States and its allies have since imposed comprehensive sanctions against Russia.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, more than 3.6 million people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, according to United Nations data. The massive surge of people has created a challenge for all the countries housing them, particularly Poland, which has taken in more than 2.1 million Ukrainians. The U.S. has provided nearly $293 million in humanitarian assistance both inside Ukraine and in the region since late February, according to the State Department. In addition, the administration an-nounced Thursday it was prepared to provide more than $1 billion in new funding toward humanitarian assistance, as well as an additional $320 million in democracy and human rights funding to Ukraine and its neighbors. This step will further support these countries, which are becoming overwhelmed by the sudden exodus of refugees.

According to NBC News, the administration is planning to reveal specific details of the plan in the coming weeks, but it’s expected to use a number of pathways to admit Ukrainians into the country, in-cluding through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Pro-gram, both immigrant and non-immigrant visas, and others. The plan is also expected to focus on clearing the way for Ukrainians who already have family living in the U.S.

One of the country’s largest refugee resettlement agencies, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, has resettled a quarter of the 20,000 Ukrainian refugees who have come to the United States since 2012. Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, the organization’s president and CEO, said in a statement: “We com-mend the Biden administration for its plan to protect Ukrainians seeking safety, the overwhelming major-ity of whom are women and children.”

“While many may wish to remain close to Ukraine, the sheer scale of displacement requires a coordinated global effort in which every able country pulls its weight,” said Vignarajah. “Welcoming 100,000 Ukrainians would be an important recogni-tion that the United States must play both a support-ing and leading role in providing refuge.”

The Biden administration has been under pres-sure from advocates as well as members of Congress to step up efforts to address the growing Ukrainian refugee crisis.—AP

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