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Local refugee agency leaders discuss possibility of Ukrainians coming to the US

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Posted at 7:08 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 19:31:21-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kentucky lawmakers have moved forward on legislation that would help war refugees resettle, including many from Ukraine. Several state and local agencies help refugees transition from their home countries to the Commonwealth.

As the war in Ukraine continues to escalate, the likelihood that the US will start accepting Ukrainian refugees increases. The Kentucky Office for refugees works to help people resettle. US leaders have discussed resettlement plans for Ukrainians in the US.

The Kentucky State Refugee Coordinator for the Kentucky Office for Refugees, Becky Jordan, explains, "What we're hearing is that we may not see refugees coming into this area or across Kentucky until next year."

Local organizations like the Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM) and the community are already looking for ways to prepare.

"We could be trying to find community members that are Ukrainian, who speak Ukrainian and English, who could assist the new arrivals when they come in with the services that are provided," says Jordan.

KRM leaders say that they have a diverse population of people they help from around the globe. They say their number one goal for people coming in, is to make sure they feel safe.

Mary Cobb, the Director at KRM in Lexington, challenges people to, "Imagine if you were airlifted tomorrow into Mozambique or somewhere you didn't speak the language, you maybe weren't very familiar with. What are all the things that you're gonna need? And how scared would you be to feel alone? You need to know where to live. How are you going to earn money?"

KRM helps people find shelter, employment, learn a language and so much more. Many organizations work to help refugees, including the University of Kentucky’s Department for International Student and Scholar Services.

The school's international living-learning program has, "US and international students that live together, get to know each other and they take a class together on global dynamics and so, that's one of the programs that we have,” Karen Slaymaker, the Assistant Director for UK’s Department for International Student and Scholar Services.

Leaders who work closely with these groups say it takes the entire community to help refugees like those who may come from Ukraine feel welcomed.

Jordan says, "It's so important that everybody is willing to help and pitch in when we already are always accepting and welcoming a refugee group."

These groups are preparing to bring global communities closer together.