UN report: nearly 6.5 million Ukrainians internally displaced

A Ukrainian police officer helps people as artillery echoes nearby while fleeing Irpin in the outskirts of Kyiv
Associated Press/Emilio Morenatti

Nearly 6.5 million people have been displaced inside Ukraine amid the Russian invasion, according to a report from the United Nations migration agency and other international bodies released Friday, in addition to the more than 3.2 million who have fled the country.

The findings come more than three weeks into Russia’s active war on Ukraine, with the U.N. on Thursday reporting that the conflict has resulted in over 2,000 civilian casualties, including 780 deaths — and saying the true figures are likely “considerably higher.”

Ukrainian refugees have fled to neighboring countries in one of the largest migration crises Europe has seen since World War II. But other displaced Ukrainians have remained in the country, with their movements impaired amid the ongoing invasion.

“Forced displacement, exposure to mines and explosive remnants of war, attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure continue to restrict civilians’ freedom of movement and heighten their exposure to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report earlier this week.

The report on internal displacements in Ukraine also noted that over 12 million people are estimated to be stranded in affected areas or unable to leave due to security risks or destruction that has caused roads to be blocked.

Displaced Ukrainians have sought refuge in metro stations, sports arenas and movie theaters. Amid the ongoing siege of Mariupol, Ukraine, a city populated by hundreds of thousands, Russia earlier this week bombed the Mariupol Drama Theatre, where hundreds of people — including pregnant women and children — were taking shelter. 

To facilitate the evacuation of Ukrainians, Ukrainian and Russian officials have agreed to establish humanitarian corridors, or protected pathways, so people can safely leave dangerous areas. However, Ukrainian officials have accused Russian forces of continuing their attacks along these routes, making it harder for Ukrainians to flee.

Ukrainians are also being cut off from resources. According to a Humanitarian Impact Report released Thursday by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, amid the ongoing attacks in Rubizhne, Ukraine, 35,000 users have been cut off from gas supplies and 104,000 remain without electricity. 

The U.N. is also concerned that the high number of displaced people forced to shelter in crowded places with limited sanitation facilities and access to health care services will allow for more transmission of COVID-19. The prevalence of HIV and tuberculosis in Ukraine have also raised concern.

Tags Russia-Ukraine conflict United Nations
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