PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – As tension in Ukraine grows higher every day, more than a million people have fled the country.
This begs the question – could Pittsburgh start seeing Ukrainian refugees?
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With each pressing day, more Ukrainians fear for their lives as Russian aggression continues and many of them have nowhere else to call home.
Pittsburgh, however, has long been a transplant for refugees.
Jordon Golin, CEO of Jewish Family And Community Services Pittsburgh, says they are open to help, as they have in the past, but the asylum process takes years.
“Normally what happens is that people are displaced from their country and the United Nations decides that they should be considered refugees,” Golin explained. “That they cannot return home and that if they were, they could be victims of persecution on grounds of nationality, race, religion or otherwise. After that, the US government proceeds with its verification process.
You may be wondering why the process is taking so long, given that Afghan refugees have been placed in the United States within months.
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According to Golin, not all situations are the same.
“The Afghan refugees were already known to the United States because they were employed by the United States through the government or the military,” he said. “We already had personal details on file, we had been checked before they were brought into the country. With Ukraine, we have to determine if they will be able to return home. Are these permanent or temporary moves? The UN must decide whether or not they meet the criteria to be considered refugees in the formal sense of the term.
Once the process started, he said the JFCS was ready to reach out to help anyone.
“We make arrangements ahead of time to make sure families have a place to live,” Golin said. “We know who they are, how many people are in families so we can make arrangements, and then we actually go to the airport, meet them, greet them. Take them to their homes or apartments, we enroll them in school, we ensure that everyone has access to health care.
The JFCS said the process could take two years to two decades for some families.
Meanwhile, Golin said they’ve created a page on their website that gives you all the information you need if you’re looking to help Ukraine.
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You can find out more at this link.