War in Ukraine: According to the UN, more than five million people have fled their country

More than five million Ukrainians have fled their country since the Russian invasion, according to figures released Wednesday by the UN on the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 5.034.439 Ukrainians have left their country since the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24, 53.850 more than the figure published on Tuesday.

"After eight weeks of conflict, we are at five million and counting, five million singular stories of loss and trauma," said Kelly Clements, the agency's Deputy High Commissioner. UN for Refugees.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), also attached to the UN, has indicated that more than 218.000 non-Ukrainians, mainly students and migrant workers, have also left Ukraine for neighboring countries, which means that more than 5,25 million people in total have fled Ukraine since the start of the war on February 24.

90% women and children

Women and children make up 90% of these refugees, with men between the ages of 18 and 60 being likely to be mobilized and not having the right to leave.

Almost two-thirds of Ukrainian children have had to flee their homes, including those still in the country.

"The scale and speed of displacement is immense but 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 sons, their fathers and their husbands,” she insisted. “Each of these millions of displaced people are forced to make impossible, heartbreaking decisions and have left everything, virtually everything they hold dear.”

According to UNHCR figures, nearly 645.000 Ukrainians fled their country in February, nearly 3,4 million in March and almost a million since the beginning of April.

In addition to the refugees, the IOM estimates that 7,1 million people are displaced within Ukraine itself.

More than 2,8 million Ukrainian refugees have fled to Poland. More than 725.000 reached Romania.

Before the invasion, Ukraine had 37 million inhabitants in the territories controlled by kyiv - which therefore does not include the Crimea (south) annexed in 2014 by Russia, nor the areas of the East under the control of the separatists. prorussians since the same year.

Psychological impact

Ms. Clements paid tribute to the mobilization in countries hosting refugees and to the “courage” and “tenacity” of the latter.

IOM Director Antonio Vitorino warned at the Security Council meeting on Tuesday that displacement would increase.

“We remain deeply concerned about the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and anticipate an increase in displacement, both internal and external,” he said.

According to Mr Vitorino, during mass displacements, up to 30% of the affected population is likely to suffer some form of psychological impact and mental health problems.

Furthermore, "human trafficking, unfortunately, is a known phenomenon in the region and, as already seen in previous crises, large-scale displacement, separation of families and disruption of civil protection and networks communities make people vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse”.

The editorial staff (with AFP)

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com/Yanosh Nemesh

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