As millions of Syrians flee the violence in their homeland, Erie County's department of Social Services is anticipating the arrival and resettlement of up to 300 refugees here.
The announcement came Wednesday from Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who first stated the news on his Twitter account.
Poloncarz said the county will work with agencies including Journey's End, the International Institute, Catholic Charities and Jewish Family Services to identify places where the refugees may settle. It will not happen all at once, but gradually over the next several months.
"We've been receiving some Syrian refugees in the past," Poloncarz said. "We know of at least 200, and potentially up to 300 in the next year will be coming."
The collaborative effort among participating agencies, he explained, will include finding safe shelter and food, and then getting the arrivals on the path toward becoming productive citizens in their new home.
Poloncarz said with the exception of Native Americans, everyone living here has ancestors who emigrated from other parts of the world to settle in America. He recalled the image of a drowned boy found on a Mediterranean beach while describing the "tragedy" of the refugees' plight.
"Thankfully, some of these people will be emigrating to the United States and will be resettled here," Poloncarz said. "Hopefully they'll be able to find wonderful new lives in our community, away from their war-torn homeland."