More than 1 million people have fled Russia’s attacks on Ukraine in 1 week

People arrive in Budapest, Hungary, after crossing the border from Ukraine on March 2, 2022.

Photo: Janos Kummer/Getty Images

More than a million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began last week, Filippo Grandi, head of the United Nations refugee agency, said Thursday.

“For many millions more, inside Ukraine, it is time for the guns to fall silent, so that life-saving humanitarian assistance can be delivered,” he wrote on Twitter.

At this rate, it seems the situation will become Europe’s biggest refugee crisis of this century, and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is mobilizing resources to respond as quickly and effectively as possible, said the agency’s spokeswoman, Shabia Mantoo.

Till the date, all neighboring countries have kept their borders open for refugees fleeing Ukraine.

Most have fled to Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, while others have moved to other European countries. A considerable number, estimated at 96,000 people according to UNHCR, have also moved to the Russian Federation.

The national authorities of these countries are assuming responsibility for the registration, reception, accommodation and protection of these refugees.

UNHCR’s count puts more than 2% of Ukraine’s population on the move in less than a week. The World Bank counted the population of that country at 44 million at the end of 2020, according to The Associated Press.

The UN agency has predicted that up to 4 million people could eventually leave Ukraine.but warned that even that projection could be revised higher.

Poland welcomes refugees from Ukraine
Volunteers show banners with destinations to refugees arriving from the border crossing in Przemysl, Poland. /Photo: Omar Marques/Getty Images

The exodus of more than 1 million people from Ukraine is only recently comparable to the exodus caused by the civil war in Syria that broke out in 2011, and which remains so far the country with the largest refugee flows, with more than 5.6 million people, according to UNHCR figures.

But even with the fastest rate of refugee flight ever out of Syria, it took at least three months for 1 million refugees to leave that country in 2013.

Authorities have warned that the refugee influx is likely to become a full-blown humanitarian crisis.

On Sunday, Ylva Johansson, the European Union’s internal affairs commissioner, said member nations must be prepared to support “millions” of Ukrainians in the coming months, according to The Washington Post.

Ukrainians can stay, without a visa, for 90 days in European Union nations, and under new rules expected to be adopted on Thursday, Ukrainian citizens will be eligible for “temporary protection” within the 27-nation bloc for up to three years, depending in part on conditions in Ukraine.

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