More than 4.9 million Ukrainians have fled the country since the start of the war – Observer

More than 4.9 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion, around 90% of them women and children, according to figures released on Monday by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

UNHCR named exactly 4,934,415 Ukrainian refugees, 65,396 more than in the last count released on Sunday.

According to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), around 215,000 non-Ukrainians have also fled the country, sometimes finding it difficult to return to their country of origin.

These third-country nationals who fled Ukraine, people who had neither Ukrainian nationality nor the country they entered, are mainly students and migrant workers.

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Europe has not had such a large influx of refugees since the Second World War.

About 90% of those who fled Ukraine are women and children, and the Ukrainian authorities do not allow men between the ages of 18 and 60, that is, of military age, to leave.

The IOM also estimates the number of internally displaced people at 7.1 million people.

“For the majority of women and children, refugees from Ukraine face an increased risk of being victims of sexual exploitation, rape and human trafficking,” UNHCR warned.

In total, more than 12 million people had to leave their homes and cross the border to reach neighboring countries or find refuge elsewhere in Ukraine.

Nearly two-thirds of Ukrainian children have been forced from their homes, including those still in the country.

Before the conflict, Ukraine had more than 37 million people in Kiev-controlled territories, that is, excluding Crimea in the south, annexed by Russia in 2014, or the eastern areas controlled by pro-Russian separatists since the same year.

Poland is the country that has so far welcomed the largest number of refugees, having already received almost 2.8 million, that is, six out of ten, and many have gone on to other countries.

UNHCR also revealed that to date 743,880 Ukrainian refugees have left their country for Romania, arriving largely via Moldova, before continuing to move to other countries.

The number of Ukrainian refugees in Russia is estimated at 522,404, and between February 18 and 23, 105,000 people crossed pro-Russian separatist territories Donetsk and Lugansk towards the invading country.

Hungary (461,539), Moldova (423,852), Slovakia (337,311) and Belarus (23,469) have also been destination countries for Ukrainian refugees.

The European Commission has encouraged Ukrainian refugees to settle in an EU country that is able to bear the financial burden.

Russia launched a military offensive in Ukraine on February 24 that has killed nearly 2,000 civilians, according to UN data, which warns that the real number is likely to be much higher.

The war caused more than 11 million people to flee, more than 5 million of them to neighboring countries.

The Russian invasion was condemned by the international community in general, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and reinforcing economic and political sanctions on Moscow.

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