OLYMPIA, Wash. – In a Medium.com post on Wednesday, Governor Jay Inslee announced Washington state’s continued commitment to welcoming war refugees to the state.
The article, published in the Washington State Governor’s Office on April 27, 2022, outlines Washington’s long history of welcoming refugees fleeing war and persecution, citing Inslee’s own recent support of Syrian and Afghan refugees. In the past five decades, more than 140,000 people have resettled in Washington. This includes more than 30,000 refugees from over 70 countries who have resettled in Washington state through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program over the last decade.
The Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance (ORIA) is the state office designated to coordinate Washington’s refugee resettlement services in partnership with the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. ORIA, which is housed within the state’s Department of Social and Health Services, invests federal and state funding into local community-based organizations to provide a variety of services that help refugees and immigrants to achieve economic stability and thrive in Washington’s local communities.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has already displaced more than 11 million people, says the United Nations’ Commission for Refugees, creating a growing humanitarian crisis in the region. About 2.5 million are children who have lost their homes and are still living in the war-torn country. As families and other victims flee repeated attacks on civilian targets, the deprivations of war only become more acute.
On April 21, 2022, the federal government announced United for Ukraine, a new federal program that will allow people in the United States to sponsor and support Ukrainians seeking refuge through humanitarian parole. This federal program in addition to resources provided by the Washington State Legislature will strengthen ORIA’s ability to work with refugee resettlement agencies and local communities to prepare for an increase in arrivals.
It is too early to estimate the number of people who will arrive across Washington. When they do arrive, some will likely be connected to DSHS to help with their resettlement.