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US churches begin taking in Ukranian refugees

01 April 2022

Alamy

President Biden meets Ukrainian refugees at the Narodowy Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday

President Biden meets Ukrainian refugees at the Narodowy Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday

THE first Ukranian refugees are beginning to arrive in the United States after President Biden announced that the country would take in 100,0000 refugees fleeing the conflict.

Two women who walked 450 miles from Kyiv to Warsaw have arrived in North Philadelphia after being offered sanctuary at St Nicholas’s Patriarchal Orthodox Cathedral. Bishop Luke Zhoba, who is Ukrainian and was contacted by one of the women, said that the two have been traumatised by the horror they have witnessed.

The Russian Baptist Church in Sacramento is helping Ukrainian refugees to cross the border from Mexico into the US, and finding them shelter in family homes and church buildings.

At least 3.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country since war broke out five weeks ago.

Members of the Russian Baptist Church have already received refugees into their homes, Senior Pastor Mikhail Avramenko said. “We’re going to accept them in our families first,” he told the Baptist Press, “and then we’ll open our gym and our second building and our classrooms to convert them to temporary living facilities. We can [house] maybe 200 people. But we don’t have this plan settled, because we think maybe at the end of March, there’s going to be influx of people coming to Sacramento.”

Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), which helps to resettle refugees as one of nine refugee agencies working with the federal government, is preparing to take in thousands of people after the President’s pledge last week.

“Another brutal conflict has caused much suffering in Ukraine and an exodus of families seeking safety in neighbouring countries,” the operations director for EMM, Demetrio Alvero, said. “With the announcement today that the United States government will assist in the resettlement of 100,000 Ukrainians, EMM will do its part, as it has for various persecuted refugees from across the world, to welcome them with the assistance of our partners, congregations, and community groups.”

EMM has welcomed and resettled more than 100,000 refugees since the 1980s, and, since 2014, it has helped resettle 420 Ukrainians under a family reunification programme that originally began in 1990 to resettle Jews from the former Soviet Union.

The US has also said it will provide $1 billion towards humanitarian assistance to support people in Ukraine.

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