Many have been fleeing Ukraine since March 1, 2022, due to the escalation of a conflict with Russia that has caused civilian casualties and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. Those leaving are seeking safety, protection, and assistance. The majority are Ukrainian women, children, and those over 65, as most able-bodied men are required by their government to stay and fight.

As of April 21, 2022, almost 5.3 million people have fled the country, the majority to border states such as Poland, Romania and the Republic of Moldova, and to nearby European Union countries. Another 7.7 million people are thought to be displaced inside Ukraine.

The Biden Administration announced plans to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russia’s aggression through a range of legal pathways, including the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. A focus of Ukrainian resettlement will be welcoming Ukrainians who have family members in the United States. The United States and the European Union are coordinating closely to ensure that resettlement efforts and other forms of humanitarian admission or transfers are complimentary.

IINE and other Massachusetts and New Hampshire refugee resettlement providers are beginning to encounter families and individuals who have fled Ukraine and are seeking services. While Ukrainians who have obtained visitor visas and other temporary statuses need support and services, most do not hold immigration statuses that offer access to public benefits. IINE is advocating for access to state and federal benefits for those who have fled Ukraine.

IINE has welcomed and resettled 489 Afghan evacuees along with other refugees over the last six months, and we receive new refugees each day. We are also working to support hundreds of Haitian migrant families desperately in need of support. Alongside this work, in preparation for welcoming Ukrainian refugees, we are reaching out to Ukrainian American communities, establishing connections, and offering support. We are advocating for public and private resources to support a surge in Ukrainian refugees to MA and NH communities and are activating our support networks to build capacity to serve hundreds of anticipated Ukrainian refugees when a pathway is established.

Approximately 1 Million Ukrainian Americans currently live in the United States, the second-largest Ukrainian diaspora outside Ukraine. More than 10,000 Ukrainian Americans live in Greater Springfield, MA, and thousands of Ukrainians live in and around the Greater Boston area.

To be able to support an influx of Ukrainian refugees, IINE and other refugee resettlement organizations need broad public, private, and community support to maintain strong services, staffing, and infrastructure across our three resettlement sites in Boston and Lowell, MA, and Manchester, NH. We are currently seeking community members that can offer volunteer services, help in identifying available and affordable housing, and financial contributions to support our efforts to prepare for incoming refugees.