UN Warns of Ukraine Refugee 'Humanitarian Crisis'


The United Nations said on Thursday the refugee exodus from Ukraine was a "massive humanitarian crisis" that was growing by the second, after another 40,000 fled the country in 24 hours. The flow of people fleeing across the western borders to escape the Russian assault on Ukraine has settled at around 40,000 a day over the past week. UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said 4,059,105 Ukrainians had fled across the country's borders since the February 24 invasion—a figure up 39,818 on Wednesday's numbers, which saw the four million mark surpassed. "We are confronted with the realities of a massive humanitarian crisis that is growing by the second," UNHCR said, noting also the millions displaced within Ukraine and the 13 million estimated to be stranded in affected areas or unable to leave. 

Women and children account for 90 percent of those who have fled. Half of those are children. Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 are eligible for military call-up and cannot leave. UNICEF, the UN children's agency, says more than half of the country's estimated 7.5 million children have been displaced, 2.5 million internally and 2 million abroad. "As the number of children fleeing their homes continues to climb, we must remember that every single one of them needs protection, education, safety, and support," said UNICEF head Catherine Russell. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said it was vital to extend a welcome "to all who have fled, without discrimination." 

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