Refugee resettlement agency expects Ukrainian refugees will come to Buffalo


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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As Ukrainians flee westward out of their homeland, agencies that assist in refugee resettlement are already thinking about the possibility they may come to the United States. Jennifer Rizzo-Choi, the interim executive director of the International Institute of Buffalo believes some of them will end up in Buffalo.

“I sense that we will be getting Ukrainian refuges in the United States, in Buffalo,” said Rizzo-Choi.

Rizzo-Choi said the first option is always to have people return to their home. But that doesn’t always work out.

“And so I don’t know for sure that will happen. But I sense that we could be – in six months to a year – looking at a Ukrainian refugee population here,” she added.

This comes during a busy time for resettlement agencies. Rizzo-Choi said between 500 and 600 Afghans have come to Buffalo in recent months. The International Institute has helped to resettle 133 of them.

In total, the agency has helped to resettle 181 refugees since November. Between November 2020 and October 2021, Rizzo-Choi says they only helped to resettle 84 people.

“My true hope is that this can be resolved and that the people who have had to leave their homes (Thursday) in Ukraine can actually go back to their homes,” she said.

Yuri Hreshchyshyn, the chairman of the Buffalo chapter of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, said Thursday while the “bulk of the population” will stay in Ukraine, preparations must be made to help refugees.

“I’m not sure if we are prepared. We’re going to have to get ready quickly,” Hreshchyshyn said.

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.

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