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The International Center of Kentucky resettled over 800 people during the 2022 federal fiscal year

Lisa Autry

The Bowling Green based International Center of Kentucky has resettled 826 people during the 2022 federal fiscal year.

That number includes 255 refugees resettling through the traditional resettlement program, 351 Afghan natives, four Ukrainian natives under two special federal programs, and nine special immigrants visa holders.

Maria Koerner, assistant director of the Kentucky Office for Refugees based in Louisville, said that regular refugee resettlement was slow at the beginning of the fiscal year so the United States could focus on Afghan resettlement.

For the 2022 federal fiscal year that began on October 1st, 2021, and ended on September 20th, 2022, Bowling Green was approved to resettle 290 refugees, 10 special immigrant visas, and 400 Afghan natives under a special program put in place after the United States withdrew from the country in August of 2021.

“Bowling Green came close to those numbers for fiscal year 2022,” Koerner said during a virtual community information meeting on Monday.

“For fiscal year 2023, Bowling Green is approved to resettle 375 refugees.”

Most of the people resettled in Bowling Green during the last federal fiscal year came from Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Cuba.

The city also welcomed individuals from Burma, Nigerian, Rwanda, and Ukraine.

During the first quarter of the current 2023 federal fiscal year that began on Oct. 1, the International Center resettled 156 people.

The majority of those resettled in the first quarter are from Cuba.

Albert Mbanfu, executive director of the center, said he’s expecting at least 56 more people to resettle by the end of the calendar year.

Those refugees will arrive during the second quarter of the current fiscal year.

Mbanfu said the center is hopeful to meet the goal of resettling 375 people during the 2023 federal fiscal year and that they are expecting an influx of people from Cuba and Ukraine.

Mbanfu added that as the war started by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, “it is very possible that we will see an uptick in the number of Ukrainians coming into the United States and Bowling Green in particular.”

Kentucky ranked fourth in the nation for refugee resettlement behind California, Texas, and New York for the 2022 federal fiscal year.

Former student intern Alana Watson rejoined WKU Public Radio in August 2020 as the Ohio Valley ReSource economics reporter. She transitioned to the station's All Things Considered Host in July of 2020 and became the student reporting and producing specialist in 2023. Watson has a B.A. in Broadcasting Journalism for Western Kentucky University and a M.A in Communications from Austin Peay State University. She is a Nashville native and has interned at WPLN-FM in Nashville. Watson was also a 2nd Century Fellow for Wisconsin Public Radio before rejoining WKU Public Radio. She has received numerous awards for her reporting.
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