Capital Clicks

Reynolds: Iowans ‘stand ready’ to accept Ukrainian refugees

By: - March 30, 2022 4:17 pm

Sen. Zach Nunn and Gov. Kim Reynolds help seal a crate of helmets to send to Ukraine on March 30, 2022. (Photo by Katie Akin/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa will send tactical gear and food assistance to Ukraine, and the state will prepare to accept Ukrainian refugees, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday.

“Iowans stand ready,” Reynolds said at a news conference, crates of tactical gear behind her. “They want to do everything that they can to support the Ukrainian people, and it’s just been heartwarming to see that.”

The aid comes just over a month after Russia launched a military invasion into Ukraine. State and national politicians rallied around Ukraine, promising aid to Ukrainians as the federal government imposes sanctions against Russia.

Iowa to send protective helmets, ballistic vests

Iowa law enforcement groups will donate 146 helmets and 714 ballistic vests to the people of Ukraine. It’s used gear from police forces in the state, who retire the vests and helmets when they reach a certain age.

Chris Scott, chief of the West Des Moines Police Department, said the gear would still be “better than none at all.”

“It provides us with just a little bit more confidence knowing that there is a layer of protection from us and a fatal projectile,” Scott said of the vests. “In Ukraine, maybe it’s from gunfire. Maybe it’s shrapnel. Maybe these vests will be on soldiers, or parents or kids.”

Reynolds: ‘Iowans stand ready to help receive Ukrainian refugees’

Iowa is open to Ukrainian refugees, Reynolds said Wednesday.

According to the UNHCR, a branch of the United Nations to oversee refugees, more than 4 million refugees have left Ukraine as of Tuesday, with over half moving into Poland.

President Joe Biden announced last week the U.S. would accept up to 100,000. Reynolds said she sent a letter to the administration “to let them know that Iowans stand ready to help receive Ukrainian refugees.”

Reynolds said Iowa’s acceptance of Afghan refugees, especially in the Cedar Rapids area,  would serve as “a model” for other communities. She praised the Department of Human Services, Iowa Workforce Development, cities and various organizations for their work to welcome refugees. 

“We are really trying to work together as one team… to make sure that we are providing them a smooth transition into our state,” Reynolds said.

To date, 914 Afghan refugees have resettled in Iowa since last summer, according to the governor’s staff.

Food supply aid in the works

Meals of the Heartland will also partner with the state to send food to Ukraine, Reynolds said Wednesday.

Reynolds said the plan for sending food was still in the works, but she encouraged Iowans to visit to donate toward the effort. Volunteer meal-packing opportunities may be available in upcoming weeks.

“As I’ve said many times, I’ve put my faith in Iowans and they always come through,” Reynolds said. “And I have no doubt that this, as a state, will come together to help our brothers and sisters in Ukraine during this horrific, tragic time.”

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.