More than five million Ukrainians flee war: UN
More than five million Ukrainians have fled their country following the Russian invasion, the United Nations said on Wednesday, in Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War Two.
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said 5,034,439 Ukrainians had left since Russia invaded on February 24, an increase of 53,850 over Tuesday’s total.
“Eight weeks into the conflict, we are at five million and counting, with five million unique stories of loss and trauma,” said UNHCR Deputy Director Kelly T. Clements.
The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) says more than 218,000 third-country nationals, mostly students and migrant workers, have also fled to neighboring countries, meaning more than 5.25 million people in total have fled Ukraine since the war began.
Women and children make up 90 percent of those who fled, and men ages 18 to 60 are eligible for military service and cannot leave.
Nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have been forced to leave their homes, including those still inside the country.
“While the scale and speed of displacement are immense, we must not lose sight of what these numbers mean,” Clements told the UN Security Council from Hungary on Tuesday.
“Women, children and the elderly have left their homes, their lives, their children, their fathers and husbands.
“Each one of the millions of displaced people are forced to make impossible, heartbreaking decisions and have left everything, almost everything, that they love.”
– Almost 1 million flee in April –
More than 2.8 million Ukrainian refugees have fled to Poland. Three quarters of a million have arrived in Romania.
Clements paid tribute to the humanity shown towards refugees in host countries, with communities and individuals coming together to provide food, shelter, medicine and transportation.
“This inspiring response is only surpassed by the strength and composure of the refugees themselves, who continue to exude courage and resilience,” he said.
UNHCR figures show almost 645,000 Ukrainians fled in February, almost 3.4 million in March and almost a million so far this month.
Beyond the refugees, the IOM estimates that 7.1 million people are displaced within Ukraine.
Before the invasion, Ukraine had a population of 37 million in government-controlled regions, excluding Russian-annexed Crimea and pro-Russian separatist-controlled regions in the east.
IOM chief Antonio Vitorino warned that more people were expected to flee their homes as the war progresses.
“We remain deeply concerned about the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, as we anticipate increased displacement, both internal and external,” he told the Security Council.
Vitorino said that in situations of mass displacement, up to 30 percent of the population could be expected to experience some kind of negative psychological impact and mental health problems.
“However, as the war continues and intensifies, the psychosocial needs will undoubtedly increase further,” he said.
“We remain particularly concerned about the situation of women and children who have fled Ukraine or who are internally displaced,” added Vitorino.
“Unfortunately, human trafficking was a known phenomenon in the region and, as seen in past crises, large-scale displacement, the separation of families, and the disruption of community and civil protection networks make populations vulnerable. to violence, exploitation and abuse.