Washington, D.C.—Following this week’s escalation of hostilities in Ukraine, CWS expressed its soaring alarm by calling on the United States to prioritize the protection and safety of displaced populations. The organization notes that since Russia’s annexation of Crimea eight years ago, over 1.5 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced. More recently, Ukraine has been a leading country of origin among refugees resettling to the United States with more than 10,000 in the past five years. CWS further calls on President Biden and his international counterparts to engage in dialogue with Russia to end hostilities and avoid the further loss of life this deadly conflict will incur.
“Peace and protection are the only acceptable outcomes in this tragic situation. As we see thousands boarding trains, packing roads, and leaving their homes behind to escape this violence, the international community not only must insist on cessation of hostilities, but ensure a lifeline to all those fleeing the horrors of war,” said Rick Santos, President and CEO of Church World Service. “As always, we believe in a world where people—no matter their place of birth, race, creed, ethnicity, or sexual orientation and gender identity—can live in peace free from fear and persecution. For now we urge the United States and international community to take immediate action, and we stand with our Member Communions, ready to assist in humanitarian efforts to aid the Ukrainian people.”
CWS notes that every single person fleeing conflict has the right to seek safety in other countries and is entitled to protection without discrimination. The organization calls on the United States to support non-governmental organizations in Ukraine and neighboring countries to assist internally displaced individuals or individuals seeking asylum in Ukraine and other host countries. CWS further calls on the United States to ensure that it processes pending refugee applications for Ukrainians from all processing posts and do everything in its power to secure their safety. The administration should also designate Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) and Special Student Relief (SSR). It is imperative that Congress immediately provide the necessary funding to provide significant support to UNHCR’s emergency appeal. Swift action will save lives.
For over a decade CWS has welcomed Ukrainian refugees to the United States as part of our efforts to address the global refugee crisis, in which over 84.6 million people are displaced. As one of nine U.S. resettlement agencies, CWS continues to fight for a robust system through which the world’s most vulnerable—whether from Ukraine, Afghanistan, Tigray, Syria, Myanmar (Burma) or beyond— can access pathways to rebuild their lives in peace.
CWS and its partners in Europe will continue to monitor the situation in Ukraine as it develops.
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