Ukraine: Another 52,000 refugees flee Russia's invasion

Ukraine: Another 52,000 refugees flee Russia's invasion
Over five million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homeland amid Russia's invasion.
2 min read
Women and children account for 90 percent of the Ukrainians who have fled abroad [source: Getty]

More than 5.3 million Ukrainians have fled their country since Russia invaded two months ago, the United Nations said Wednesday, with more than 52,000 joining their ranks in the past 24 hours.

In total, 5,317,219 people have fled Ukraine as refugees since February 24, according to the latest data from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

That marks an increase of 52,452 over the figure given on Tuesday.

While the outflow has slowed significantly since March, UNHCR has projected that three million more Ukrainians could become refugees by the end of the year.

The exodus has been described as Europe's fastest-growing refugee emergency since World War II, but a leading humanitarian warned Wednesday that even that was an understatement.

Including the 7.7 million people estimated to be displaced within Ukraine, more than 12 million people were displaced in the first eight weeks of the war, he pointed out.

"People talk about since the Second World War, (but) tell me when in the Second World War there were 12 million people displaced in eight weeks," Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), told reporters.

The large displacements back then happened "over a longer period," he said.

In addition to the Ukrainian refugees, the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM) said an additional 224,975 citizens of third countries - largely students and migrant workers - have also escaped to neighbouring countries since the invasion began.

Women and children account for 90 percent of the Ukrainians who have fled abroad, with men aged 18 to 60 eligible for military call-up unable to leave.

Almost two-thirds of Ukrainian children have fled their homes.

Before the invasion, Ukraine had a population of 37 million in the regions under government control, excluding Russia-annexed Crimea and the pro-Russian separatist-controlled regions in the east.