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' We'll probably see Ukrainianians arrive' | Greensboro agencies prepare for a possible influx of refugees

The Greensboro Police Department and resettlement agencies are making changes as more Afgan refugees enter the city, preparing for Ukrainian refugees as well.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — In the last year, the Triad has taken in refugees from a number of countries.

According to data from UNCG more than 60,000 immigrant refugee families have moved to Guilford County since 2014.

Greensboro groups are making preparations for Ukrainian refugees who could come to the area as the U.S. welcomes them into the country.

Assistant Chief John Thompson with the Greensboro Police department said since the U.S. Military has withdrawn from Afghanistan he's seeing more refugee families in Greensboro than he’s seen in his 19 years on the force.

He said he feels law enforcement could do a better job connecting with them.

Thompson has a personal interest and experience in learning about other cultures so he took it upon himself to reach out and connect with the refugee community.

In a short few months, Thompson has met with more than 200 refugees from Afghanistan and Africa.

“Policing can be different depending on where you are in the world so introducing them to local policing laws and safety tips,” Thompson said.

Thompson said he’s laying the groundwork for forming a cultural affairs program within the GPD.

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Thompson has attended cultural orientation events and is building bonds with resource providers who help refugees so he can then better educate his fellow officers.

“We can then use those relationships to have a better understanding internally,” Thompson said. “We can bring them to the department to have meetings and training where they can educate the police department on those things.”

In Thompson's short time working to build bonds with resettlement agencies he's become better informed about just how vulnerable resettled refugees are. 

"Part of the conversation I had this morning dealt with youth that are here with their immigrant families and parents have concerns they're teenagers are getting involved with other children who aren't doing the best things," Thompson said. "They are vulnerable to those things in our society it's an added complication when you come here and language is an issue and working is an issue.”

Church World Services Greensboro has seen an influx of refugees in recent months.

Since October 2021 the no-profit has helped 108 afghans and 52 refugees resettle in the Greensboro community. 

Megan Shepherd the office director for the non-profit said that’s a much larger number than in previous years.

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"Over the past several years resettlement agencies have seen lower numbers of refugees arriving primarily because of the former presidential administration and the way they were lowering the refugee admissions cap." shepard said.

Shepherd said over the last few months they’ve been busy resettling and serving family’s coming from Afghanistan under operation allies welcome.

"We've grown a lot over the past several months just out of the necessity of having to increase our capacity,' Shepard said. "We partner with a lot of volunteer groups who do incredible work to set up homes for us."

The agency has about 24 employees on staff and has resettled more than 2,000 refugees from 24 different countries since 2009.

Since millions are fleeing their homes in Ukraine because of the Russian invasion the U.S. is considering welcoming Ukrainian families. 

This could mean more changes for CWS, as they are one of nine national resettlement agencies.

"We'll probably see Ukrainian refugees arriving through the refugee admissions program," shepard said. "That probably won't happen for some time it'll take a lot of resources to process those cases."

CWS said only time will tell but In the meantime, both they and The Greensboro Police Department will work to make Greensboro a safe place for refugees needing to start over.

CWS is one of three refugee agencies in Guilford County they and other organizations are always looking for donations and folks who can donate their time. Click here to learn more. 

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