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Local refugee groups expect some Ukrainian evacuees to resettle in metro Atlanta

On Thursday, President Biden announced the U.S. will welcome 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 5:14 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Local non-profits that work with refugees expect some Ukrainian evacuees to resettle in metro Atlanta.

On Thursday, President Biden announced the U.S. will welcome 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

“What you’re engaged in is much more than just whether or not you can alleviate the pain and suffering of the people in Ukraine. We’re in a new phase, your generation, we’re at an inflection point,” Biden told the troops in Poland on Friday.

On average, Georgia welcomes between 2,000-3,000 refugees every year. Justin Howell is the executive director for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the largest of four private refugee resettlement agencies in the state.

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“We stand ready to welcome people,” said Howell. On average, we welcome about half of all refugees in the state.”

The IRC helps refugees find jobs, open businesses, and enroll their kids into school. Last fall, when American troops pulled out of Afghanistan and the U.S. welcomed more than 70,000 Afghan evacuees, the IRC resettled 800 of them in Georgia. Howell expects a comparative number of Ukrainian refugees in Georgia.

“We won’t necessarily see a large influx in the immediate term,” Howell said. “So, we’re probably talking months rather than days or weeks. We don’t have clarity on what pathway the government is thinking about bringing people here.”

Once refugees are resettled in Georgia, there is a larger network of organizations in metro Atlanta that support their path to self-sufficiency, including Friends of Refugees.

“What we do really is a picture of Atlanta,” said executive director Kendra Jeffreys.

The non-profit located in Clarkston often referred to as “the most diverse square mile in America,” helps refugees in during the post-resettlement phase.

“If you can image going to a country where you don’t know the language or culture typically, you need help for longer than 3-8 months,” Jeffreys said. “So, what we do is come alongside people after that time period to really help them.”

The Biden administration did not provide a timeline but it’s typically a lengthy process and the officials said all 100,000 may not necessarily arrive this year, according to the Associated Press. The traditional resettlement process can take up to 18 months.