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14 Mar, 2022 12:07

UN estimates number of displaced Ukrainians

The high commissioner for refugees says Europe can expect 3 million more refugees within a few days
UN estimates number of displaced Ukrainians

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in an interview on Monday that more than 5 million people have been displaced amid the Russian incursion in Ukraine, calling it the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II.

We project ourselves into the worst case scenario. There are over five million people in Ukraine, 10% -15% of the population, who have been forced out of their homes. Of these, more than a half are already outside the country but at this rate there will be 3 million more within a few days,” the high commissioner said in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. 

According to Grandi, more than 2 million people are currently moving towards the West, forced to abandon their homes due to fears for their safety, and nearly one-third of Ukraine’s population of 40 million is in a desperate situation because of the hostilities.

The most astonishing thing is that this picture materialized in only two weeks, not five years,” he added. According to Grandi, it is the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, and even the situation with the Balkan Wars, which developed over eight years, was less dire. He described the situation he witnessed at the Moldova border, where he saw families being separated and the men going back to fight.

Speaking on the UN’s handling of the crisis, Grandi said UN representatives will stay in Ukraine as long as possible, adding that it’s “fortunate that Ukrainians have so many connections in Europe, where there are large and well-established communities,” which has simplified temporary accommodation and removed the need for large reception centers. He added, however, that it’s important to keep track of how the situation and the movement of refugees develops.

Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to regularize the status of the regions within the Ukrainian state.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.