UN warns up to 5 million Ukranians could flee country
Geneva/Kyiv, Feb 25 (EFE).- The United Nations said Friday that 100,000 people have been displaced since Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered troops to launch an invasion on Ukraine.
The UN refugee agency also warned that up to five million Ukrainians could flee abroad as a result of the war that began Thursday morning.
“We are looking at ranges of 1 to 3 million into Poland for example, (…) A scenario of 1 to 5 million including all surrounding countries,” Afshan Khan, UNICEF’s regional director for Europe and Central Asia, told a press conference in Geneva.
Entire families, elderly people and foreign students were crowding the train station in Kyiv in an attempt to escape the bloodshed.
“We don’t know what to do. There are no train tickets and we can’t find cars, vans or cabs. And we can hear bombs very close,” Garik, from Panama, told Efe.
The English teacher is among many foreigners living in Kyiv who are trying to flee the city as Russian troops have reached the Ukrainian capital.
“I’m scared. I have to get to the Polish border somehow, my family is very worried. I have to reassure them somehow,” a fellow English teacher from South Africa, Johan, said.
Meanwhile, in a night train departing the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, women were traveling with their children while their husbands stayed behind.
“I had to leave by train, it was impossible by car. The roads were collapsed. I want to go to Poland. I have to think about my daughter,” Zhenia told Efe.
Movements of Ukrainian refugees have been reported in Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Moldova, which have all said they are ready to welcome thousands fleeing the conflict.
The Romanian government lifted a mandatory Covid-19 quarantine for Ukrainians entering its territory while the Polish government set up eight refugee reception centers along its border with Ukraine as well as emergency helplines.
According to the Polish government spokesman, Stanislaw Zaryn, some 29,000 Ukranians crossed into Poland on Thursday and 16,000 into Moldova, according to its president, Maia Sandu.
“Even if in the coming days the flow of people from Ukraine will grow, we will receive all those who ask us for help,” Sandu said.
From across the Atlantic, New York governor, Kathy Hochul, said the city was ready to receive Ukrainian refugees and that shelter would be provided to those fleeing the war.
The European Union also said it was ready to deal with the Ukrainian refugee crisis and that this would be discussed at a meeting between EU interior ministers this weekend.
Not all Ukraninans are leaving, however. Some have chosen to volunteer in the army to defeat the Russian enemy.
“I am a doctor. I am traveling back to Odessa (Black Sea), where my home, family and loved ones are. I want to help. Putin has completely lost his mind,” said Sergey. EFE