GENEVA:- The number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine has surged to nearly 875,000, UN figures showed on Wednesday, as fighting intensified on day seven of Russia’s invasion.
In all, 874,026 people have fled across the country’s borders, according to the website of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.
That marks a huge jump of around 200,000 from the 677,000 announced almost 24 hours earlier by UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi.
Poland has welcomed around half of all those who have fled, according to combined tallies up to Tuesday.
UNHCR figures show that 454,000 had fled to Poland; 116,000 to Hungary; 79,000 to Moldova; 67,000 to Slovakia; 45,000 to Romania, 43,000 to Russia, and 350 to Belarus.
Meanwhile 70,000 have gone to other European countries.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said Wednesday that his country had welcomed around 20,000 Ukrainian refugees since the conflict started.
“The military offensive in Ukraine has caused destruction of civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties and has driven many thousands of people from their homes,” UNHCR said.
– ‘Refugee crisis’ –
“There is a clear indication that many more people are on the move. They are in need of protection and support.”
UNHCR projects that more than four million Ukrainian refugees may eventually need help in neighbouring countries.
The UN on Tuesday launched an emergency appeal for $1.7 billion to provide urgent humanitarian aid to people caught up in the Russian invasion and for the refugees fleeing the violence.
“We are looking at what could become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century,” Grandi said.
The first wave of people fleeing across Ukraine’s borders were likely to be people with cars, resources and some connections in other European countries, he said.
But as Russia’s offensive continues, people who are “more vulnerable” could start to flee, he told reporters.
Russian forces said they had captured the Ukrainian port of Kherson on Wednesday, as Russian and Ukrainian troops battled in the streets of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and President Volodymyr Zelensky said Moscow wanted to “erase” his country.
The UNHCR noted that an additional 96,000 people had crossed into Russia from the separatist eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions between February 18 and 23, before the February 24 invasion. AFP
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