Over 4.2 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russian invasion began


More than 4.2 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia launched its unprovoked invasion, according to United Nations refugee agency data on Monday.

State of play: The U.N. refugee agency has labeled the exodus the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

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  • “The speed of the displacement, coupled with the huge numbers of people affected, is unprecedented in Europe in recent memory,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi last week during his first visit to Ukraine since the invasion began.

  • “I have spoken with women, with children, who have been gravely affected by this war,” he added.

  • “Forced to flee extraordinary levels of violence, they have left behind their homes and often their families, leaving them shocked and traumatized. The protection and humanitarian needs are enormous, and continue to grow. And while critically urgent, humanitarian aid alone cannot give them what they really need – and that is peace.”

Driving the news: Most Ukrainian refugees have crossed into Poland, and others have gone to Romania, Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia and other European countries. Many have also fled to Russia.

  • «People are under stress … and when people are scared they become egoist and forget about everything,» Natalia Pivniuk, a Ukrainian woman from Lviv, told AP earlier this month.

  • She said people were pushing to get on a train to flee. It was «very scary, and dangerous physically and dangerous mentally.»

Data: UNHCR; Map: Jared Whalen and Will Chase/Axios

Zoom in: More than 60% of children in Ukraine have been forced from their homes due to the war, with at least 2 million fleeing Ukraine and more than 2.5 million internally displaced, UNICEF said late last month.

  • «The situation inside Ukraine is spiraling,» UNICEF executive director Catherine Russell said in a statement.

  • «As the number of children fleeing their homes continues to climb, we must remember that every single one of them needs protection, education, safety and support.»

The big picture: UN aid agencies have warned that fuel, cash and medical supplies were dwindling in Ukraine.

  • «The picture is grim and could get worse still,» UN emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths told the Security Council earlier this month.

  • «The elderly and people with disabilities find themselves trapped and unable to flee,» he added.

  • «Children will miss school and face a great risk of physical harm displacement and unimaginably severe emotional stress. Women, so often disproportionately affected by conflict … will be at even greater risk of gender-based violence.»

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new estimates on the number of refugees.

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