COLUMBUS, Ohio — Amid the continuing Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has begun the preparation for a possible influx of refugees.
On Tuesday, DeWine announced that he has directed the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services to convene a summit in Northeast Ohio featuring various service organizations to ensure the state's preparedness to welcome Ukrainian refugees, if asked.
The summit is scheduled to be held on March 17 and will consist of multiple organizations who could play a role in the relocation of Ukrainian families, including resettlement agencies, faith-based organizations, charities, and others interested in supporting Ukrainians.
"Like many Ohioans, I am disgusted by the senseless aggression of the Russian military and want to support Ukrainian families being driven out of their country," DeWine said. "While we do not yet know what role Ohio will play in helping these families, I want us to be prepared when the time does come."
According to DeWine, since 2018, more than 500 Ukrainians have been resettled in Ohio, mostly in Cleveland. Many were resettled due to the Lautenberg Amendment, a federal program established in 1990 that allows religious minorities from the former Soviet Union to seek refuge in the United States. More than 14,000 Ukrainian nationals have been resettled in the U.S. under the Amendment in the past five years.
“ODJFS is pleased to help bring Ohio’s resettlement agencies, and other charitable organizations together to seek ways of helping displaced Ukrainians,” added ODJFS Director Matt Damschroder. “Over the next few days, we’ll be finalizing an agenda and providing more information to the key players in this effort.”
According to the United Nations, more than 2 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion began less than two weeks ago. It is becoming the "fastest growing refugee crisis since World War II," the head of the UN refugee agency tweeted over the weekend.
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