More than 1 million refugees have fled Ukraine in a week since Russia’s invasion, says UN

  • The UNHCR projects more than four million Ukrainian refugees may need protection and assistance, while the EU says the figure could reach seven million
  • UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi warns that ‘unless there is an immediate end to the conflict, millions more are likely to be forced to flee Ukraine’
Agence France-Presse |

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Refugees fleeing Ukraine disembarking from a train in Zahony, Hungary on Wednesday. Photo: AP

More than one million people have fled Ukraine into neighbouring countries since Russia launched its full-scale invasion just a week ago.

“In just seven days, one million people have fled Ukraine, uprooted by this senseless war,” UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said in a statement Thursday. “Unless there is an immediate end to the conflict, millions more are likely to be forced to flee Ukraine.”

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has projected that more than four million Ukrainian refugees may eventually need protection and assistance, while the European Union’s crisis management commissioner has said the figure could reach seven million.

More than 37 million people lived under the Kyiv government’s control before last week’s invasion.

Why is Russia invading Ukraine and what does Putin want?

Here is a breakdown of where the 1,038,583 refugees tallied so far by UNHCR have headed to:

Just over half of those who have fled Ukraine have crossed west into Poland. The UNHCR said that 547,982 people had done so. Most arrivals are women and children from all parts of Ukraine.

Polish border officials meanwhile put the number higher, saying Thursday morning that 575,100 people had crossed from Ukraine since the Russian assault began on February 24.

They said 95,000 people entered from Ukraine on Wednesday, after 98,000 crossed over on Tuesday.

Women and children fleeing from Ukraine sleep at a makeshift shelter in the railway station in Przemysl, Poland. Photo: AP

The influx continued Thursday, with 27,100 crossing into Poland. Before the current crisis, Poland was already home to around 1.5 million Ukrainians.

Some 133,009 people have so far crossed from Ukraine into Hungary, or nearly 13 per cent of the total, the agency said.

The country counts five border crossings with Ukraine, and several border towns such as Zahony have turned public buildings into reception centres, with ordinary people donating food and clothes, the interior ministry said.

227 civilian deaths in Ukraine since invasion, says UN

Thousands of refugees have arrived in Budapest. An Agence France-Presse photographer saw dozens of refugees disembarking from trains arriving every 30 minutes in the Hungarian capital from the Ukrainian border on Tuesday.

According to the UNHCR, 97,827 people who fled Ukraine were now in Moldova, marking a jump of nearly 20,000 since the last count on Wednesday.

The refugee agency said 72,200 had fled across Ukraine’s shortest border to Slovakia, making up 7 per cent of the total number.

Volunteers prepare donations at the temporary refugee centre in a local primary school at Tiszabecs, eastern Hungary. Photo: AFP

In addition, nearly 5 per cent of those who had fled Ukraine, 51,261 people, were now in Romania.

Some refugees reported they had headed to Romania to avoid massive jams at the Polish border.

Most are passing through Siret in the north of the country, where a camp has been set up, along with a second near Sighetu Marmatiei, where volunteers were handing out hot tea, coffee and pizza, as well as flowers and little charms to mark the start of spring, celebrated on Tuesday across the country.

A Ukrainian holds her dog as she crosses the border in Vysne Nemecke, Slovakia on Thursday. Photo: AP

Officials said tens of thousands of refugees who entered Romania have now moved on elsewhere.

UNHCR said 47,800 people had fled across Ukraine’s longest border since the invasion began – nearly 5 per cent of the total number.

Some 357 people had crossed north from Ukraine into Belarus, according to the UNHCR.

The refugee agency said 8.5 per cent of those who had fled Ukraine into neighbouring countries, 88,147 people, had already moved on towards other European states.

People, fleeing Ukraine, register for a bus which will take them to Germany, at the railway station in Przemysl, Poland. Photo: AP

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said Wednesday his country had welcomed around 20,000 Ukrainian refugees since the conflict started.

Karolina Lindholm Billing, the UNHCR representative to Ukraine, estimated Tuesday that a million people had been internally displaced by the invasion.

She cautioned that the agency still did not have reliable figures.

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