2.9 million Ukrainian refugees leave border states – UN
Geneva, Switzerland – The United Nations (UN) said on Friday that of more than 6.6 million Ukrainian refugees who have fled to neighboring countries, 2.9 million have gone to other European countries.
The refugees, overwhelmingly women and children, have crossed into Ukraine since the February 24 Russian invasion.
The figure from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, gives an idea of how many people remained in the first country they entered and how many left elsewhere as the displacement crisis triggered by the war is spreading across the continent.
“According to the latest data we have…2.9 million refugees have moved beyond neighboring countries to Ukraine,” UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo said in a briefing to Geneva.
A UNHCR chart showed that the largest number of Ukrainian refugees in non-neighboring countries were in Germany, the Czech Republic and Italy.
A total of 6,659,220 Ukrainians have fled the country since the invasion, according to agency figures. Of these, more than 3.5 million headed west into Poland.
READ: 10 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine – UN
Around 100,000 refugees a day were arriving at the Polish border in early March, but their numbers slowed to around 20,000 throughout May.
“Newly arrived refugees often come from areas heavily affected by fighting, some having spent weeks hiding in bomb shelters and basements,” UNHCR spokeswoman Olga Sarrado said during the briefing from Geneva via a video link from a refugee registration center in Warsaw.
“They often arrive in a state of distress and anxiety, having left family members behind, with no clear plan for where to go, and with fewer economic resources and connections than those who fled earlier.”
The first weeks of the war saw volunteers pouring in to help either at the borders or to welcome the newcomers to their homes.
Sarrado said strong support from the wider international community would be needed to maintain this generosity and strength in response.
“The needs only increase as the conflict drags on,” she said.
“Support will have to be provided so that they can stay in the country until they can return and live in dignity.”
More than 1.1 million people have registered with the Polish authorities and received a national identity number which allows them to access public services.
READ: Over two million flee Ukraine in 12 days – UN
Some 94% of those registered are women and children.
Ukrainians have entered Poland more than 2.1 million times since February 28 – although these are not necessarily permanent returns.
“We’ve also seen more ‘commutable’ movements, where people cross the Ukrainian border for a variety of reasons, including to visit families, check on properties or return to their jobs,” Sarrado said.
“However, Poland expects to continue to receive and host a considerable number of refugees, given the significant internal displacement, massive destruction and ongoing hostilities in Ukraine.”
Prior to the invasion, Ukraine had a population of 37 million in government-controlled areas, excluding Russian-annexed Crimea and areas controlled by pro-Russian separatists to the east.
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