US commits to hosting up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees

The United States announced Thursday that it is willing to take in a maximum of 100,000 Ukrainian refugees and other nationalities who have fled Ukraine after the Russian invasion and that it will deliver an additional $1 billion in humanitarian aid to the country.

Washington’s priority will be to welcome those Ukrainians “who have relatives in the United States,” explained an official US source, who requested anonymity, in a telephone press conference.

The White House made the announcement during the visit to Brussels of President Joe Biden, who is participating this Thursday in two summits of NATO, the G7, and the European Union (EU).

Until now, the Biden administration had insisted that most Ukrainians who have fled Ukraine wanted to stay as close to their country as possible and were unlikely to want to resettle in the United States.

However, the pressure for Washington to do its part has increased as the number of refugees from the Russian invasion of Ukraine has grown, which has already reached 3.67 million, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The quota of 100,000 announced by the United States not only includes those who may arrive in the country as refugees but can also be filled by Ukrainians who obtain different visas, said the aforementioned official source.

The White House did not identify a specific period of time for these refugees and immigrants to move to the United States and the process to obtain asylum in the country can take years.

The United States will focus part of its efforts on “protecting the most vulnerable refugees,” such as the LGBTI population, those with medical needs, and journalists, among others, the source said.

The announcement comes a day before Biden is due to travel to Poland, which has received more than half of the refugees who have fled Ukraine, some 2.17 million, according to UNHCR.

The White House also pledged another $1 billion in humanitarian aid Thursday to provide food, medicine, shelter, and essential items to at-risk populations in Ukraine, as well as those who have fled to neighboring countries.

In addition, he announced a new program called the European Democratic Resilience Initiative (EDRI), which will be endowed with 320 million dollars and will aim to “defend human rights in Ukraine and neighboring countries”, according to an official statement. 

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