Our opinion: Finding a fit for potential refugees
If Warren County is going to begin accepting Ukrainian refugees, what number is best? According to a report completed by MCM Consulting and provided to the county last month, 20 to 60 would be a start.
In a recent article in the Times Observer, Commissioner Ben Kafferlin called those estimates a starting point while noting churches in the region are already working in their own ways to assist those fleeing a war zone. The Associated Press reported Wednesday the European Union’s asylum agency says the number of people from former Soviet countries seeking international protection in Europe has skyrocketed since Russia launched its war in Ukraine.
The agency said Wednesday that about 14,000 Ukrainians sought asylum in March, a figure some 30 times higher than before the war that started Feb. 24. The number is on top of the estimated 3 million Ukrainians who have applied for emergency protection under an EU program that provides shelter, access to jobs, medical treatment and education to war refugees.
Those numbers alone prove there is a need. Starting small, the report notes, is likely the best way to begin the acceptance process when need, housing and education is part of the equation here at home.
“This is a critical resource and even nonprofits like Catholic Charities or Salvation Army will need advanced notice to set up temporary housing and support refugees until they can gain employment and support their own long term housing needs,” the report states.
Areas here that are most prepared to accept refugees, the report noted, are Brokenstraw, Conewango, Glade, Pleasant, Warren city and Youngsville. When — and if — these new residents arrive, there will need to be support as well as one more key item: a warm welcome from this community.