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Texas organizations gearing up to welcome thousands of Ukrainian refugees

The CEO of Refugee Services of Texas told WFAA an estimated 12,000 Ukrainian refugees will resettle throughout Texas.

DALLAS — The U.S. is gearing up to welcome refugees from Ukraine.

On Thursday, the White House announced that the U.S. will welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian war in Ukraine.

Russell Smith, the CEO of Refugee Services of Texas, told WFAA he anticipates his organization will help between 3,000 to 5,000 refugees resettle, but details on a timeline are still in the works. 

In total, Smith estimates up to 12,000 Ukrainian refugees will arrive in Texas.

“My guess is that number will increase over time,” Smith said. “It’s a moral and ethical duty to help people who are in harm’s way.”

More than 3.6 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began, according to UN refugee agency data.

While millions of Ukrainians have fled, many have chosen to stay.

Nataliia Samkova, a native of Ukraine who lives in Dallas, has parents living 20 minutes outside of Kyiv.  

“It’s been hard,” Samkova said. "Every day, I call my parents. They just text me, we are alive. Then, I go to bed."

Her concern for her parent’s safety has only grown in the last month of war.

“For two weeks I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, I was crying, couldn’t do anything. How to help? You lose so much energy,” Samkova said.

While the U.S. prepares to welcome Ukrainian refugees, Samkova’s parents refuse to leave their country.

“I’m begging them, please come to the United States. They said, ‘No Natalia, this is our war. Our country,’” Samkova said.

It’s that love of country that makes the images of Ukrainian cities turned to rubble so heartbreaking for Samkova.

“I just can't wait when we finally receive the text message, the war is over,” Samkova said. “I wanna run and hug my parents, the people of Ukraine… they’re all in pain, you know?”

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