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Local officials ready to take in Ukrainian refugees, but it may be a while before any arrive

Ellen Abbott

State and local officials say they are prepared to welcome refugees from the war in Ukraine, but it may be a while before any arrive.

Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there had been a steady stream of Ukrainians to the United States in recent years, and that includes the city of Syracuse, according to Beth Broadway of Interfaith Works, one of two resettlement agencies in central New York.

“We have settled Ukrainians right along who have fled from there for political reasons and because of the terrorism and violence over many years,” Broadway said on a recent episode of WRVO’s Campbell Conversations. “We do expect in some period of time there will be an opening of the doors."

When that happens though depends on how refugees are dispersed. Generally, the United Nations would take control of the refugee process, meaning it could be years before any made their way to central New York.

“It would take Congress and president to make a decision to bring people here directly and bypass the United Nations. I don’t know whether they will do that. I seriously doubt they will,” said Broadway. “I think they will involve the United Nations in this particular situation. So it could be years before we see any large numbers here.”

But there is always the possibility that the U.S. government gives special status to these refugees, as it did for Afghans fleeing their country after the fall of Afghanistan last summer. In any event, Broadway expects her agency will be resettling victims of this war eventually.

"We always say this to ourselves. If we are seeing terrorism activity at high levels within countries, we know that within couple of years, we at Interfaith Works will be serving that population,” she said.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.