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International

UN: 500,000+ refugees have escaped Ukraine amid Russian invasion

Feb 28, 2022

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Headshot of <p class="author-name text-name1">Alex Peebles</p> />
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					<p class=Alex Peebles

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According to multiple sources within the United Nations, including this tweet from High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi, more than 500,000 refugees have escaped Ukraine since the Russian invasion began. According to a UNHCR spokeswoman, most of those refugees have ended up in Poland (281,000), Hungary (84,500), Moldova (36,400), Romania (32,500) and Slovakia (30,000). The rest are scattered in unidentified other countries.

“We would stress that those figures have been rising hour by hour and day by day, so we can expect those to keep rising throughout the course of the day,” Matthew Saltmarsh, the head of news and media at the UNHCR, said Monday. “There’s obviously a lot of congestion, and it’s very difficult to get across the borders, so the people arriving are exhausted. Many of them have travelled for many hours, if not days, to get there.”

The UN’s estimate of refugees leaving Ukraine comes a day after the European Union (EU) predicted as many of 7 million Ukrainians could be displaced due to the Russian invasion. The EU’s commissioner for crisis management said those 7 million could “find themselves in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.”

“We are witnessing what could become the largest humanitarian crisis on our European continent in many, many years. The needs, the humanitarian needs are growing as we speak,” Janez Lenarcic said Sunday. “One priority should therefore be, the assistance to people affected by this war. I have urged the ministers today that we will have stronger impact if we do this together.”

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson urged the EU’s interior ministers to trigger a special protection mechanism to help deal with influxes of refugees. The mechanism was set up in the wake of the wars in former Yugoslavia and Kosovo but has yet to be used. It provides residence permits, as well as the possibility of jobs, accommodation, social welfare, medical treatment and education for children.

“It is those countries in Europe that are leading this response… the UNHCR and our UN partners are supporting them and we’re ready to help more if needed,” Saltmarsh said. “Putting people up, giving them a roof over their heads, making sure they’ve got food, warm clothes because of course, it’s cold, water and medical attention, if it’s needed.”

Priscillia Vawa Zira // Medical Student Studying in Ukraine: “The situation was very terrible. You had to run because explosions here and there every minute, run to the bunker, and all of that. And to get a train to leave Lviv was horrible. I stayed for over 20 hours.”
Gwen Baumgardner: HER STORY — ONE OF THE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS THAT PEOPLE ARE LIVING RIGHT NOW AS women and children evacuate UKRAINE AMID RUSSIA’S INVASION.
AS OF MONDAY MORNING — THE U-N ESTIMATES MORE THAN HALF A MILLION PEOPLE HAVE ALREADY FLED.
MILES OF CARS AND BUSES WERE BACKED UP AT BORDER CHECKPOINTS.
SOME UKRAINIANS OPTING TO CROSS THE BORDER ON FOOT…INTO PLACES LIKE POLAND, SLOVAKIA, AND HUNGARY.
OVER THE WEEKEND — THE EUROPEAN UNION PREDICTED AS MANY AS 7 MILLION UKRAINIANS MAY END UP BEING DISPLACED.
Janez Lenarcic // European Commissioner for Crisis Management: “We are witnessing what could become the largest humanitarian crisis on our European continent in many, many years. The needs, the humanitarian needs are growing as we speak.”
Gwen Baumgardner: THE E-U’S TOP MIGRATION OFFICIAL HAS CALLED FOR ALL POSSIBLE PROTECTIONS FOR THESE REFUGEES – PROVIDING THEM WITH A PLACE TO LIVE, AS WELL AS THE POSSIBILITY OF JOBS — MEDICAL TREATMENT — AND EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN.