Thursday 12 December 2019

Conflict in Ukraine creates one million refugees

People loosen parts from a burned-out Ukrainian armored personnel carrier in the village of Hrabske, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014. The fight for Ilovaisk and surrounding areas, including the village of Hrabske, between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian separatist fighters was bitter and lasted the best part of a month. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
People loosen parts from a burned-out Ukrainian armored personnel carrier in the village of Hrabske, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014. The fight for Ilovaisk and surrounding areas, including the village of Hrabske, between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian separatist fighters was bitter and lasted the best part of a month. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Goran Rozinger

More than one million people have been displaced by the conflict in Ukraine, including 814,000 Ukrainians now in Russia with various forms of status, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday.

Numbers displaced inside Ukraine by the fighting have nearly doubled in the past there weeks to at least 260,000 and more are fleeing, it earlier told a Geneva news briefing.

"It's safe to say you have over a million people now displaced as a result of the conflict, internally and externally together," Vincent Cochetel, director of the UNHCR's bureau for Europe, later told reporters. "I mean 260,000 in Ukraine, it's a low estimate, 814,000 in Russia, then you add the rest ... Belarus, Moldova, European Union."

UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres warned of dire consequences if the spiralling crisis in eastern Ukraine, which has killed more than 2,600 people since mid-April, is allowed to continue.

"After the lessons of the Balkans, it is hard to believe a conflict of these proportions could unfold on the European continent," he added.

As pro-Russian rebels allegedly backed with Moscow's manpower and weaponry open a new front in the southeast, there are fears that the exodus will accelerate.

Ukrainian servicemen from the Azov Battalion train volunteers in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

An estimated 2.2 million people remain in conflict zones such as Donetsk and Luhansk, UNHCR said, but the number of people fleeing through three "corridors" was falling after civilians were killed escaping.

Irish Independent

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