Ukrainian exchange student speaks on refugee crisis


Halli Frost

Exchange student, Sofiia Lobas (11), has integrated into MSHS classes and activities this year. Last year, she did an exchange year in Texas.

Halli Frost, Reporter

As the borders of the United States reopen to refugees fleeing their home countries and seeking a new opportunity to live in a safe environment, many have found a new home in Denver.  An influx of refugees arrived in Denver in December. Sofiia Lobas (11), an exchange student from the Ukraine, has a unique viewpoint on Colorado’s refugees.

There are over one million Syrian asylum seeker refugees in European countries, and 70 percent of those people are being hosted in Germany & Sweden. These countries have welcomed millions of people with open hands without question. But the United States has been more selective about accepting refugees. While President Trump was in office, he closed US borders to many refugees, particularly ones from Muslim countries.  

Now that Biden is president, the asylum seeking refugees have come back to the US border asking for help. But Biden’s administration is also slow to figure out any kind of solution to this rising issue.

As of February 2022, the Russian invasion on Ukraine has forced millions of people to leave their homes and be scattered across Europe. In total, there have been 7.9 million refugees recorded fleeing Ukraine. “I think it’s terrible that people are forced to move out of the country and go to different places. But I’m glad that Europe has been welcoming to us and it’s a lot,” Lobas said.

Some of Lobas’ family has had personal experiences with migration into European safe havens, specifically Germany. 

“My aunt went to Germany, she had to live with other people, and they were totally okay with her being there. Even though they never helped anybody from Ukraine before and they weren’t being paid for it, or even being thanked by the government for it. And it’s just crazy to me that people are being so open and helpful,” Lobas said.

Lobas is not a refugee, but some of her close friends have had hard experiences with coming to the U.S.

“If I talk from my personal opinion, I think that the US has a point, and you have a lot of refugees. I believe you suffer with the amount of people coming in that country,” Lobas said. “But also, I think that in a crisis situation like what has happened in Ukraine, I do think that it’s really important for a government to be open to refugees and help them, like providing money and housing.” 

The city of Denver has about 3,500 refugees from the southern border, mostly from Venezuela.  But, 70% of them are moving on to other parts of the country.  Communities that take in refugees are attempting to help in many ways, but clear guidelines and money are not always available.

“If I were president of the United States, I would take more care of this issue,” said Lobas.