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NY organization preparing to resettle Ukrainian refugees



Buffalo, New York – More than 2 million Ukrainian refugees have fled to neighboring countries like Poland and Moldova to escape Russian attacks since Feb. 24. We may soon see citizens of the country seeking refuge in New York and other parts of the U.S. as the crisis grows more severe.

One of the many organizations that help resettle refugee populations is the International Institute of Buffalo.

“It’s usually the case that when a refugee population is created due to a traumatic event, we don’t get people immediately,” said Jennifer Rizzo-Choi, the organization’s interim executive director. “It’s usually a year or more before refugees come in and resettle, and that’s because a whole bunch of processes have to happen overseas and in international law before that essential refugee pipeline gets set up to bring people into our resettlement processes.”

According to Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York state is prepared to welcome Ukrainian refugees. The Department of Homeland Security granted those refugees temporary protected status to make it easier for them to come to the U.S.

This wouldn’t be the first time the region has helped refugees from the country get acclimated to America with New York being home to the largest Ukrainian American population in the country. Shortly after the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, the International Institute of Buffalo helped settle Ukrainian refugees in the city once before.

“About a year or so after that, there were refugees who were displaced from Ukraine and some of them came to Buffalo and we resettled them and provided the same social services that we do today for refugee populations that come in,” said Rizzo-Choi. “So, my guess is that Buffalo’s Ukrainian community is a mix of some of those former refugees from that era and then also immigrants who have come here to make Buffalo home.”

Over the past year, the institute has been busy, resettling nearly 200 refugees since November. Most of those were from Afghanistan after the country was devastated by the Taliban. Those invested in the current crisis can have a hand in helping by aiding refugee populations that are already settling in the region.

“If you’re upset and you want to get involved and help, I would encourage you to donate or volunteer with our organization because there are a lot of refugees that we’re currently resettling at this moment that have come in from other groups that are people who weren’t able to go back to their own homeland,” Rizzo-Choi said.