An estimated 3.5 million refugees have now fled their homeland of Ukraine, mostly to Poland and neighboring countries. Others have traveled to the Bay Area where lawmakers say more will follow.
On Tuesday, San Mateo County Supervisors issued a resolution saying Ukrainian refugees will be welcome.
“Our county is the the third wealthiest county in the United States,” said Supervisor David Canepa. “So we need to make sure that we step up and step in to help people who need us most.”
Canepa says plans need to be put into place to help with housing, healthcare, even job placement.
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This past weekend the supervisor held an event, in conjunction with the Ukrainian American Coordinating Council, to raise awareness about the issues refugees are facing. The UACC, and that awareness event, ultimately helped shape the county’s resolution.
“To get ahead of this now and have these conversations because this war doesn’t look like it’s ending, and the displacement could grow even more,” he said.
Ukrainians and supporters rallied in Redwood City over the weekend for the end of the war.
The consul general applauded the effort to help refugees – while they wait to return home after the war.
“It’s important people here will be ready to help those women and children,” said Dmytro Kushneruk. “Those families with some housing on a temporary basis.”
Rostyslav Boutchko and his wife are from Ukraine but have lived in Castro Valley since 2005.
He’s been writing letters and working with local politicians urging them to help.
He said personally, his in-laws escaped to rural Poland.
“Helping people reintegrate into society. Having people get temporary work permits, that would be amazing,” said Boutchko. “Right now, people who I talk to, not just my family, are stuck somewhere in the middle of the woods. You don’t have bombs dropping on you, but your past is gone forever. You have no future and nothing to do right now. It’s very hard.”
He added that legal assistance to get visas is also needed as communities step up to help the millions displaced.