USA Ukrainian refugees

Credit: Welcome.US/Instagram 

International

Article by: Mark Temnycky
Welcome.US, the largest coalition to support Ukrainian refugees in the USA, offers easy instructions for sponsorship and other ideas to help and has up to date helped 90,000 Ukrainian fleeing Russia’s war in times of need.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been catastrophic. As the war approaches its eighth month, tens of thousands of Ukrainians have perished, and numerous cities and villages have been destroyed. Meanwhile, over 60,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, and Russia has lost billions of dollars in military equipment. Experts believe that rebuilding Ukraine will cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Despite the death and destruction caused by the Russian incursion, the war continues without an apparent end.

Russia’s actions have forcibly displaced one-fourth of Ukraine’s total population. To date, over 15 million Ukrainian citizens are displaced (seven million of whom have fled the country). Many Ukrainians have attempted to resettle across Europe, where they have sought shelter and working opportunities. But many of these families have struggled to adapt to their new surroundings. Ukraine’s neighbors were also not prepared for a mass refugee crisis.

Nonetheless, the international community is trying to do everything it can to assist Ukraine during its time of need. For example, several governments have created assistance programs to aid Ukrainian refugees and asylum seekers. Other institutions have offered generous stipends for Ukrainians. While these aid efforts may not immediately resolve the war, they have provided Ukrainians with new opportunities in an otherwise challenging period in their history.

Beyond the European continent, several other countries have helped Ukraine in its time of need. For example, the US government has provided billions of dollars in financial, humanitarian, medical, and defense aid to Ukraine. In April, the US Department of Homeland Security launched “Uniting for Ukraine,” a government program that gives displaced Ukrainians an opportunity to come to the United States with the help of an American sponsor. This model of private sponsorship is designed to build capacity within the US refugee resettlement system, giving more newcomers the chance to find refuge in the United States. Numerous domestic institutions are involved in these efforts.

Two friends created 50 homes for Ukrainian war refugees out of abandoned village houses

Welcome.US: the largest coalition to sponsor Ukrainian refugees in the USA

One of these organizations is Welcome.US.

Launched in September 2021 after the fall of Kabul, this non-profit, non-partisan organization seeks to “unleash the desire and capacity of people across America to welcome more newcomers and help them thrive” in the United States. This organization has established the largest coalition to directly support newcomers in the history of US refugee resettlement. Welcome.US’ participants and members include hundreds of businesses, nonprofits, community leaders, all nine US resettlement agencies, and four former US Presidents and First Ladies.

Welcome.US has also partnered with nearly 40 of the largest American companies to “galvanize additional private sector support and resources” for newcomers. The initiative began with aiding Afghans in need, and it has since expanded to help Ukrainians impacted by Russia’s war.

 

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As part of its work to tap into the willingness and desire of the American people to welcome newcomers, Welcome.US built the Welcome Connect platform. This program matches displaced Ukrainians seeking safety in the United States with potential sponsors. An American sponsor can assist Ukrainians in various ways. Given that the most pressing challenges facing new refugees include finding a place to live, employment, and basic goods like furniture or kitchen supplies, sponsors may help Ukrainians find permanent housing in America, obtain necessities for their homes, enroll children and young adults in school, and apply for jobs. These services help Ukrainians adapt to their new homes and feel a sense of belonging in their new communities. Sponsors are encouraged to greet newly arrived refugees at the airport and help them settle in the United States.

For example, one American couple in Oklahoma (who requested anonymity) was connected with a Ukrainian family of seven through the Welcome Connect platform. The couple and a Ukrainian translator met the family from Ukraine at the airport. The couple then worked to help the Ukrainians settle in their home, they took the family to the grocery store. The American couple helped enroll the four Ukrainian children in schools, and they set up a prenatal exam for the pregnant mother.

USA Ukrainian refugees

Credit: Welcome.US/Instagram

Their local community in Oklahoma came together as well, where families donated food and essentials to these Ukrainians. The Oklahomans even hosted a baby shower for the expectant mother. This story reflects just one of the over 850 active connections that Welcome Connect has facilitated between Ukrainians and American sponsors in states ranging from California and New York to Texas and Maryland, forging new friendships and lasting relationships.

Those interested in sponsoring Ukrainians or supporting in other ways can visit Welcome.US’ Ukraine Welcome Hub website for a list of resources and information. To date, over 128,000 Uniting for Ukraine applications have been submitted and over 90,000 Ukrainian beneficiaries have been approved for travel to the United States. These sponsors are not just in major cities in the United States, but they are all across the country. The places with the highest number of sponsorship applications include states like Texas, Washington, and Illinois. Ukrainians can find additional information about Uniting for Ukraine and Welcome Connect in English, Ukrainian, or Russian on the Welcome.US website.

Overall, Russia’s unjust war has led to the deaths of thousands, the displacement of millions, and the destruction of an entire country. But as the devastation continues, the international community has shown that there is still good in the world. Numerous countries are doing what they can to help Ukrainians in need. Welcome.US is just one of the many organizations seeking to improve the quality of life for Ukrainians, and in the end, the assistance and generosity provided by these organizations will help make a difference.

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