SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Lutheran Social Services in South Dakota could play a part in the re-location of refugees from Ukraine, said local LSS director Tim Jurgens.

Jurgens said it’s too early to know what LSS’s role would be or when any Ukraine refugees could arrive in the U.S. or South Dakota.

“It usually takes 18 to 24 months for it to play out…,” Jurgens said of when refugees typically arrive in the U.S.

Part of the process includes family unification where family or close friends are located to help place refugees with familiar persons, he said. Such placements are more successful and effective, he said.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has said family reunification is a priority.

“In Sioux Falls and South Dakota, 95% or greater of the refugees that come in are classified as family unification,” Jurgens said.

The UNHCR shared an update on March 1. The organization said about 660,000 refugees have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries in the past six days.

The March 1 update said the “UNHCR is also ramping up its response in Ukraine to help displaced and conflict affected people. But the volatile situation, security concerns, lack of safe access for humanitarian workers and movement restrictions are posing major challenges for aid workers, including UNHCR staff.”

The number of refugees admitted to the U.S. declined in fiscal year 2020 and 2021 to hit some 40 year lows, according to multiple media reports. The numbers were around 12,000 each fiscal year. The U.S. accepted 207,000 in 1980, according to the Migration Policy Institute.