On Two-Year Anniversary of Ukraine Invasion, CWS Honors the Lost and Displaced, Celebrates our New Neighbors

February 27, 2024

Washington, D.C.—Church World Service today marked the two-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, by renewing its pledge to stand with the Ukrainian people—including those still living bravely in their country, and those forced from their homes. Over the past two years, millions upon millions of Ukrainians have sought refuge in North America and in Europe, many have built new lives as our neighbors, many still seek to one day return to their homeland. CWS resolutely stands in support of them all. 

Shortly after the invasion, CWS created a front-line receiving program to welcome Ukrainian families 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. CWS network offices and its affiliates continue to provide needed services to those arriving in the United States—including through language services, access to housing, receiving medical and mental healthcare access, and employment aid. 

“For two years we have watched the innocent being displaced, mourned the loss of life, and joined with people of many nations and creeds in the hopes of peace. During this time of upheaval, however, we have also seen the best of humanity through those that have opened their homes and hearts to the displaced, but, most importantly, through strength of the women, men, and children of Ukraine that now live alongside us,” said George Devendorf, Senior Director for External Affairs 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 15,000 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, and Roma refugees.

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. But Congress has failed to extend authorization for these benefits for those arriving after September 30, 2023, cutting off tens of thousands of Ukrainians and placing individuals we have pledged to protect at risk. CWS now urges Congress to reauthorize protections for newly arriving Ukrainians and calls on the administration to ensure this population has an efficient re-parole process to ensure continuity of status, work authorization, and access to services.

As CWS marks these past two years for Ukraine, the organization additionally calls on our national leaders to extend the same protections to other vulnerable populations around the globe. This includes 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 Devendorf, contact media@cwsglobal.org