Ukrainian women carrying their children cross the border in Medyka, southeastern Poland, Thursday. AFP
The announcement coincided with US President Joe Biden's meeting with European leaders in Brussels to coordinate the Western response to the crisis.
More than 3.5 million people have fled since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb.24, putting a strain on the neighbouring European countries receiving them. US lawmakers and advocates have urged Biden to do more to help those seeking refuge in the United States.
Refugees with children wait for a transport after fleeing the war from Ukraine at a railway station in Przemysl, Poland. AP
A senior Biden official said the administration still expected many Ukrainians to choose to remain in Europe close to their home country but added the US commitment to receive more people would relieve some pressure on European nations currently hosting refugees.
"We recognize that some number of Ukrainians who have fled may wish to come to the United States temporarily," the official told reporters on the condition of anonymity.
The Biden administration said in a statement it would use "the full range of legal pathways" to bring Ukrainians to the United States, including the US refugee resettlement program.
As part of the effort Ukrainians may enter through existing visa avenues and through a relief program known as "humanitarian parole," which allows people into the country on an emergency basis, the senior administration official said. Reuters reported details of the plans earlier this week.
Before the crisis erupted in Ukraine, Biden launched the largest US resettlement effort since the Vietnam War by accepting about 80,000 Afghans after US troops left Afghanistan following 20 years of war.
In contrast to the Afghan evacuation however, the 100,000 Ukrainians would not necessarily be allowed into the United States within the current fiscal year, which stretches until the end of September, the US official said.
A elderly woman refugees is helped out of an ambulance after fleeing the suburbs of Kyiv. AFP
In the first two weeks of March, seven Ukrainian refugees resettled in the United States, internal US State Department data seen by Reuters shows, as the war intensified and the number of Ukrainians fleeing skyrocketed.
Eastern European countries, most notably Poland, have received the bulk of people escaping the Russian shelling of cities and towns across Ukraine. Those countries want additional nations to help take in refugees, with the European Union set to discuss "fair burden sharing."
The United States has allocated billions of dollars in economic aid to fleeing Ukrainians and countries hosting them.
The current effort to allow more Ukrainians into the United States is part of a broader series of aid measures announced by the Biden administration on Thursday, including $1 billion in new funding toward humanitarian assistance to support people still in Ukraine and "those affected by the global impacts of Russia's war," which Russia calls a "special military operation."
The Biden administration will launch a new democracy and human rights program that aims to provide at least $320 million in new funding to defend human rights in Ukraine and neighboring countries.
On average, every day over the last 20 days in Ukraine, more than 70,000 children have become refugees," James Elder, spokesman for the UN children's agency UNICEF, told reporters in Geneva.
Women and children account for 90 per cent of those who have fled. Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 are eligible for military call-up and cannot leave. The initial daily flow of refugees heading west has slowed over the last week and remained steady at around 40,000.
With schools closed, high demand for volunteer work, and the absence of men, women's unpaid care burden has increased significantly.
President Zelensky said conditions in Mariupol, which has seen the worst fighting of the nearly eight-week long war, continued to worsen, though Reuters witnesses said a few dozen civilians managed to leave the city on Wednesday in a small bus convoy.
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