Russia’s relentless bombardment of residential areas across Ukraine has so far forced more than one million refugees flee Ukraine in just seven days.
Filippo Grandi, the UN High commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement Thursday: “I have worked in refugee emergencies for almost 40 years, and rarely have I seen an exodus as rapid as this one.”
Thousands are thought to have died or been wounded as the biggest attack on a European state since world war two unfolds, creating one million refugees, hits to Russia’s economy, and fears of wider conflict in the West unthought-of for decades.
In the port city of Mariupol, home to roughly 400,000, residents are without electricity and water, according to local officials, as Russian troops step up their offensive.
According to a local resident of Kherson, which has about 300,000 inhabitants, there is a severe lack of food and medicine. The resident added that there had been a significant amount of Russian troops, and said that Russian soldiers had been seen arresting men.
In Mariupol, the deputy mayor said that the southeastern Ukrainian city had faced 26 hours of continued shelling and warned it now faces a humanitarian crisis.
Most of those who have fled the country have gone to Poland, to Ukraine’s west, with large numbers also entering Hungary, Moldova, Romania, and Slovakia.
Worryingly, a “big number” of those crossing into Poland are unaccompanied children. According to Poland’s Ambassador, many children crossing the border are leaving behind parents – particularly their fathers, who have been called by the Ukrainian government to stay behind and fend off Russian troops.
On Thursday, the second round of talks between Russia and Ukraine ended with an agreement on humanitarian corridors for civilians, but Ukraine said there were no breakthroughs beyond that.
Senior Ukrainian official Mykhailo Podoliak said in a tweet: “The second round of negotiations is over. Unfortunately, the results of Ukraine are not yet achieved. There is a solution only for the organization of humanitarian corridors.”
Meanwhile; the Czech government has declared a 30-day state of emergency in anticipation of a major influx of people fleeing the conflict.
The European Union has made the “historic decision” to grant temporary protection to all the refugees fleeing the conflict.
The United Nations World Food Programme has launched an emergency operation to provide food assistance to people within Ukraine and in neighboring countries, following an official request from the Ukrainian government.
The organization is calling for $570 million to help refugees fleeing violence amid Russia’s ongoing invasion.
Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement that; in addition to those who had left the country, one million people were displaced internally.
It is unclear exactly how many Ukrainian civilians have been killed during the war; but the United Nations, Human Rights Monitoring Mission estimates there have been 750 civilian casualties.
The Russian government has “strongly” rejected accusations that it has committed war crimes in Ukraine.
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