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Iowa ‘prepared and ready to welcome’ Ukrainian refugees

Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 8:19 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa is “prepared and ready” to welcome Ukrainian refugees after the Unites States committed to taking up to 100,000 refugees earlier in March.

According to the United Nations, more than 4 million people have left Ukraine since the Russian invasion. The number is higher than the “worst-case” prediction the group made before the war began.

Alex Carfrae, who is a spokesperson for Iowa’s Department of Human Services, said in an email the department hasn’t been asked to make any decision on the number of refugees the state could handle or when they could arrive. He said discussions are ongoing, but it is early in the process.

“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from our federal partners on our approach,” he wrote. “We’re incredibly proud of the work we’re doing here—but there is still A LOT of work to do.”

Iowa has a long tradition of accepting refugees, like Afghan refugees in 2021. When processing those refugees, our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team found state officials blaming a compressed timeline for problems coming from the federal government.

Those included inconsistencies in policies and papers being translated into the proper language while the Taliban were taking over the country.

Carfrae said the department believes this time it will have significantly more time to have services and supports available well in advance of a Ukrainian refugee arriving in Iowa. He also said DHS restructured the Bureau of Refugee Services to better meet the needs of refugees and funded a position with the Iowa Finance Authority to help secure affordable housing for refugees.

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