MYRTLE BEACH S.C. (WBTW) — Lutheran Services Carolinas is preparing to resettle Ukrainian refugees in South Carolina, and some of them could end up in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee, the group said.
Many of the refugees will be coming to the Columbia, Charleston and Greenville areas, according to Ted Goins, president and CEO of Lutheran Services Carolina. He said his organization has refugee resettlement offices in all three cities through its New American program.
The refugees have to resettle within a 100-mile radius of those offices, which could lead to some settlement in the Florence and Myrtle Beach area, Goins said.
Once the National Lutheran Refugee and Immigration services identify refugees in partnership with the U.S. government, Goins said the refugees are then spread out to places like Lutheran Services Carolinas.
The first thing his organization is doing is hiring more staff.
“Sometimes these folks are coming into the airport at 12 o’clock at night,” Goins said. “We’ve got to have staff that are there to pick them up. If we need car seats, if they got three or four children we might need three or four car seats to help them even just get from the airport back to their new apartment.”
Goins said his organization is already talking with employers and apartment complexes about jobs and places to live for their refugees.
The U.S. government’s approval for refugees to resettle takes roughly six to twelve months, Goins said. However, once approved, families can begin moving into the United States for resettlement.
“That means meeting them at the airport when they fly in, taking them to housing that we have set up for them and then starting the process of assimilating them into our culture,” Goins said. “Once they get approved, then they are handed off from the federal government to those nine national agencies, that includes our Lutheran Immigration Refugee Services, and then, they in turn, hand them off to us.”
Goins said his organization is currently in the process of resettling about 430 refugees, many of whom are from Afghanistan fleeing the Taliban.
“They were actually put on a military base where they could stay secure until we could do at least the start of that process, to identify who they are and to make sure they were who they say they were,” Goins said.
Since 1980, Goins said his organization has resettled 15,000 people in the Carolinas.