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Russia-Ukraine crisis: US to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing war, says sources

Washington has already said it would speed up visa processing for relatives of U.S. citizens and residents



Ukrainians wait for registration by French immigration administration at a refugee welcome center in Paris on March 17, 2022 as the number of refugees fleeing Ukraine since Russia's incursion has grown by more than 100,000 over the past 24 hours, the United Nations says, calling the outflow of more than three million people a 'heartbreaking crisis'. Photo: AFP
Ukrainians wait for registration by French immigration administration at a refugee welcome center in Paris on March 17, 2022 as the number of refugees fleeing Ukraine since Russia's incursion has grown by more than 100,000 over the past 24 hours, the United Nations says, calling the outflow of more than three million people a "heartbreaking crisis". Photo: AFP

By Reuters

Published: Thu 24 Mar 2022, 5:08 PM

Last updated: Thu 24 Mar 2022, 11:59 PM

The United States plans to accept up to 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s incursion and is pledging $1 billion in new humanitarian aid, the Biden administration said on Thursday after a month of bombardments touched off Europe’s fastest-moving refugee crisis since the end of World War Two.

The announcement coincided with U.S. President Joe Biden’s meeting with European leaders in Brussels to coordinate the Western response to the crisis.

More than 3.5 million people have fled since Russia attacked Ukraine on Feb. 24, putting a strain on the neighboring European countries receiving them.

U.S. lawmakers and advocates have urged Biden to do more to help those seeking refuge in the United States.

In the first two weeks of March, seven Ukrainian refugees were resettled in the United States, internal U.S. State Department data seen by Reuters shows.

Some Ukrainians have traveled to Mexico to seek U.S. asylum at the southwest border.

A senior Biden official said the administration still expected many Ukrainians to choose to remain in Europe close to their home country but added the U.S. commitment to receive more people would relieve some pressure on European nations currently hosting the bulk of refugees fleeing the conflict, which Russia calls a “special military operation.”

“We recognize that some number of Ukrainians who have fled may wish to come to the United States temporarily,” the official told reporters on the condition of anonymity.

The Biden administration said in a statement it would use “the full range of legal pathways” to bring Ukrainians to the United States, including the U.S. refugee resettlement program, which provides a path to citizenship.

As part of the effort, Ukrainians may enter through existing visa avenues and through a relief program known as “humanitarian parole,” which allows people into the country on an emergency basis, the senior administration official said. The Biden administration said it will focus on Ukrainians with family members in the United States.

Reuters reported details of the plans earlier this week.

'Lots of questions'

Before the crisis erupted in Ukraine, Biden launched the largest U.S. resettlement effort since the Vietnam War by accepting about 80,000 Afghans - many arriving in a mass airlift operation - after U.S. troops left Afghanistan following 20 years of war.

In contrast to the Afghan evacuation however, the 100,000 Ukrainians would not necessarily be allowed into the United States all at once or even within the current fiscal year, which stretches until the end of September, the U.S. official said.

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Eastern European nations, most notably Poland, have received hundreds of thousands escaping the Russian shelling of cities and towns across Ukraine. Those countries want additional assistance from other nations to take in refugees, with the European Union set to discuss “fair burden sharing.”

The United States has also allocated billions of dollars in economic aid to fleeing Ukrainians and nations hosting them.


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