(Update 1: updates with two-million confirmation, changes headline, lede)
Geneva/Paris, Mar 8 (EFE).- Over two million refugees have now fled from Ukraine in the 12 days since Russia began its invasion of the neighboring country, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday
Most of the refugees are currently in Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova, while around 153,000 have moved to other European countries, the two UN agencies said.
The IOM said that it had launched a collaboration with digital accommodation platform Airbnb to connect people fleeing Ukraine with possibilities of free short-term lodging in any of the five major host countries.
Airbnb had already offered accommodation for 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, and so far over 26,000 owners have signed up to offer their properties free or at discounted rates in countries across the world.
An IOM spokesperson in Geneva said that “safe private and accessible” accommodations were the need of the hour for the refugees.
Earlier on Tuesday, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi had warned of the number of refugees going past two million in an interview with French radio broadcaster France Inter.
He said that additionally, there were “hundreds of thousand of people” within Ukraine on the move to escape combat zones, with most moving towards the west and likely to try and cross the border in future as the war progresses.
According to the UNHCR, the conflict could result in the exodus of up to four million Ukrainians or around 10 percent of the total population.
The European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrel said on Monday that the EU should prepare to receive around five million refugees due to the war.
Asked about ways to help with the humanitarian crisis, Grandi said that money was the biggest necessity, to buy “what was required,” and urged people to donate through “trustable” organizations.
He said that the second phase of aid work would require housing and hosting refugees.
Responding to reports of alleged discrimination towards some African refugees at the Polish border, Grandi said that he had discussed the issue with Poland’s authorities, who said that the hassle was the result of administrative issues.
The commissioner said that he had not come across cases of discrimination, without ruling out that they could have occurred, and insisted that there was no “wish” to discriminate and there would not be in future either.
In line with explanations offered by Polish authorities, European Council President Charles Michel alleged on Sunday that the controversy over the alleged systematic discrimination against African students at the border was “Russian propaganda.”
Poland has so far received 885,000 Ukrainians, while Hungary is currently hosting 170,000 refugees according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (the refugee agency), despite both the countries earlier being among the the most reluctant in Europe to accept refugees. EFE