Washington, D.C.—Church World Service today marked the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, by expressing its continued solidarity with the Ukrainian people—both those remaining in the country and those displaced across the globe. Since last February 24th, over 14 million Ukrainians have fled their home, seeking safety for their families in neighboring countries, throughout Europe and in North America. During this time, CWS has established a front-line receiving program to welcome the displaced in Moldova, worked with the U.S. government to facilitate temporary protections and permanent solutions, and reinforced partnerships with American communities to aid the Ukrainian people during this terrible time.
The organization now calls upon President Biden and Members of Congress to take action to extend vital services to those Ukrainians joining our communities and increase reliance on permanent protections like the refugee resettlement and asylum programs to better respond to this and future crises in a more humane and efficient manner.
“The past year has been one of struggle and of uncertainty for the Ukrainian people. Through it all, as the world has prayed for peace, people of all creeds have asked what they can do to help. They have opened their doors to those fleeing the horrors of war, and their hearts to those remaining in Kiev, the Donbas, and beyond,” said Erol Kekic, Senior Vice President at CWS. “From the border of Moldova, where we embrace the displaced fleeing the front lines, to our congregational partners forming welcoming committees in towns and cities across America, Ukrainians have been met with compassion, support, and resolve.”
Through our local partnerships in Moldova, CWS has reached over 12,000 refugees and host community members with supplies for daily survival, including food, hygiene, winter, and school supplies, in addition to longer-term support through education, psychosocial, psychological, livelihoods, and medical services, and legal counsel. As needs stretch into the longer term, our focus continues to be supporting the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in this crisis: women, children, Roma refugees, and third country nationals.
Shortly after the conflict began, President Biden committed to welcome at least 100,000 people fleeing Ukraine. In April 2022, the administration announced the Uniting for Ukraine program. Under this program, people who have fled the conflict in Ukraine are eligible for humanitarian parole, a temporary status that allows beneficiaries to stay in the U.S. for up to two years. Individuals applying to travel to the U.S. through this program must have a U.S.-based sponsor, who can be a group or individual in the U.S. who commits to supporting the beneficiary after they arrive in the country. Displaced populations fleeing Ukraine have also entered the United States at the southern border.
Congress then authorized certain refugee resettlement benefits for Ukrainians arriving with humanitarian parole, such as medical assistance, job training, help enrolling children in schools, and other case management support. CWS now urges the administration to swiftly ensure this population has an efficient re-parole process to ensure continuity of status, work authorization, and access to services.
As CWS marks this past year for Ukraine, the organization additionally calls on our national leaders to extend the same protections to other vulnerable populations around the globe. Including by fulfilling its promises to Afghans left behind by continuing relocation efforts for Afghans overseas, creating a designated parole program for Afghan nationals, and enacting an Afghan Adjustment Act. Additionally, CWS urges President Biden to utilize and strengthen the U.S. resettlement program—and extend similar protections to other at-risk refugees, particularly those who have been languishing in the referral pipeline such as Eritreans, Rohingya, Syrians, and others.
For more information, or to speak with Kekic, contact email@example.com.