The Slatest

U.N.: Ukraine Exodus Marks Fastest-Growing Refugee Crisis Since WWII

A child is comforted by his brother at a temporary shelter in the main train station of Krakow on March 6, 2022, as they wait to be relocated to other temporary accomodations in Poland or abroad.
A child is comforted by his brother at a temporary shelter in the main train station of Krakow on March 6, 2022, as they wait to be relocated to other temporary accomodations in Poland or abroad. LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/Getty Images

More than 1.5 million refugees have arrived from Ukraine to neighboring countries since Russia launched its invasion, according to United Nations data. It marks “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a tweet on Sunday. After visiting the Moldovan border, Grandi warned the situation will only get worse. “This will be a more complex situation,” he said.

Many of those who have fled Ukraine already had some place to go, but later arrivals may not be so lucky and will need more help from neighboring governments. “These governments have done very well in their initial response. They were well prepared. But if the numbers continue to grow it will be a problem,” Grandi said.

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The United Nations has predicted that as many as four million Ukrainians could be displaced following the invasion. Ukraine’s neighbors have so far agreed to host refugees but there’s concern that they will reach a saturation point and will need help from other European countries and the United States. Although White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki has said the United States would accept Ukrainian refugees, administration officials say that “for now at least, most of the refugees apparently want to stay in Europe,” reports the Associated Press.

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The warnings on the rising tide of refugees came amid reports that a plan to evacuate civilians from the port city of Mariupol appeared to collapse for a second time amid an ongoing Russian assault. Images also appeared to show civilians trying to flee Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, coming under Russian fire. “There can be no ‘green corridors’ because only the sick brain of the Russians decides when to start shooting and at whom,“ Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said on Telegram. Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a phone call with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan everything in Ukraine was going according to plan and his campaign would not end until Ukraine stopped fighting.

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