Feb 27, 2023 - News

Cleveland among top U.S. metros for Ukrainian refugees

Data: U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Chart: Axios Visuals

In the year since Russia invaded Ukraine, nearly 4,400 people in the Cleveland area have volunteered to sponsor Ukrainians seeking refuge.

  • That made the Cleveland-Elyria metro one of the most welcoming places in the U.S. for Ukrainian refugees this past year, according to Homeland Security data.

By the numbers: Cleveland ranked ninth overall in host applications, but sixth on a per capita basis.

The intrigue: Joe Cimperman, executive director of Global Cleveland, tells Axios the number would be much higher if secondary migration were included.

What they're saying: "We are hearing of more and more people leaving other communities in the states and coming here," Cimperman says. "What it shows is that this community is vocal and extroverted about welcoming people and has the wherewithal to do so."

  • Cimperman says the Orthodox churches, stores and cultural touchstones in Parma — Cleveland's largest suburb and the region's Ukrainian hub — makes new arrivals "feel at home instantly."

The big picture: The outpouring of Northeast Ohio support for both Ukraine and Afghanistan in recent years has activated civic "muscle memory," Cimperman says, inspiring locals to volunteer on behalf of other refugee communities.

  • "If Cleveland wants to be great again," he says, "we have to be immigrant-oriented again."
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