More than 1.5 million refugees have now fled Ukraine for neighbouring countries, UN reports


More than 1.5million refugees have now fled Ukraine for neighbouring countries since Vladimir Putin invaded, United Nations figures have shown.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called the migrant crisis the ‘fastest growing crisis in Europe since World War II’.

He tweeted yesterday morning: ‘More than 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine have crossed into neighbouring countries in 10 days — the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.’ 

More than 1.5million refugees have now fled Ukraine since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine

More than 1.5million refugees have now fled Ukraine since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine

UNCHR communications chief Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams added: ‘The rate of this exodus is quite phenomenal. 

‘We know that there are many more on the move. Also there are possibly equal numbers inside the country that are internally displaced.’ 

On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited a welcome centre set up by Polish authorities in what once was a shopping centre in Korczowa, where roughly 3,000 refugees are taking shelter.

Mr Blinken heard harrowing tales from mothers and their children who described long and perilous journeys – and the shock of the sudden disruption and the fear for their lives – after fleeing the devastation of the war.

‘Near our home we heard bombs,’ said Venera Ahmadi, 12, who said she came with her brother and sister, six dogs and seven cats from Kyiv – 372 miles away.

‘We walked to the border, I don’t know how many hours. We crossed the border on foot.’

Her 16-year-old sister Jasmine said: ‘I was scared I would die.’

Natalia Kadygrob, 48, reached the centre with her four adopted children from Kropyvnytskyi, almost 500 miles by bus. Her husband stayed behind.

‘There they bombed planes at the airport,’ she said. ‘Of course we were afraid.’

Tatyana, 58, who would not give her last name, came with her daughter Anna, 37, and Anna’s daughters Katya and Kira, who are aged six and one. They are from Kharkiv, about 600 miles from the shelter.

‘They were shooting on the street,’ Tatyana said. Anna said her home had been destroyed by a shell or a rocket.

She was in the basement with her daughters when the explosion happened. ‘They should be in school,’ Anna said. ‘They are children, they don’t understand.’

Mr Blinken watched as Polish authorities escorted small groups of refugees – about 20 at a time – across the frontier from the Ukrainian town of Krakovets.

Groups mainly of women, children and elderly men – rolling their possessions in luggage and carrying infants and the occasional family pet – made their way into makeshift processing centres set up in tents on Polish territory.

It comes as Ukrainian refugees will be allowed to stay in Britain for up to three years as the Government partially bowed to pressure to ease entry requirements today.

The Home Office expanded on the previous limit of 12 months as Home Secretary Priti Patel visited a border crossing between Poland and Ukraine to see thousands of refugees fleeing the advance of Vladimir Putin’s army.

Ministers had been under pressure to act to make it easier for Ukrainians to be brought to the UK. An initial visa offer restricted to immediate family was widened earlier this week to include parents, grandparents and siblings, with applications open. 

Ms Patel flew to Poland to launch the Ukraine family scheme to allow Britons and those settled in the UK to bring their relatives to the UK to join them.

Arriving in a blacked out Mercedes she was whisked up to the frontier and into a holding centre where she was shown the sheer heartbreak of what was taking place by Polish interior minister Bartosz Grodecki.

Huddled together, some under blankets, hundreds of women and children were trying to keep warm at the Medyka crossing in Poland as temperatures hovered around zero with a biting wind whistling through.

Charities were handing out hot food and drinks to the refugees many who had been waiting more than 12 hours to cross as the number arriving in Poland alone topped 700,000 with a million expected by early next week.

 

On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited a welcome centre set up by Polish authorities in what once was a shopping centre in Korczowa, where roughly 3,000 refugees are taking shelter.

Mr Blinken heard harrowing tales from mothers and their children who described long and perilous journeys – and the shock of the sudden disruption and the fear for their lives – after fleeing the devastation of the war.

‘Near our home we heard bombs,’ said Venera Ahmadi, 12, who said she came with her brother and sister, six dogs and seven cats from Kyiv – 372 miles away.

‘We walked to the border, I don’t know how many hours. We crossed the border on foot.’

Her 16-year-old sister Jasmine said: ‘I was scared I would die.’

Natalia Kadygrob, 48, reached the centre with her four adopted children from Kropyvnytskyi, almost 500 miles by bus. Her husband stayed behind.

‘There they bombed planes at the airport,’ she said. ‘Of course we were afraid.’

Tatyana, 58, who would not give her last name, came with her daughter Anna, 37, and Anna’s daughters Katya and Kira, who are aged six and one. They are from Kharkiv, about 600 miles from the shelter.

‘They were shooting on the street,’ Tatyana said. Anna said her home had been destroyed by a shell or a rocket.

She was in the basement with her daughters when the explosion happened. ‘They should be in school,’ Anna said. ‘They are children, they don’t understand.’

Mr Blinken watched as Polish authorities escorted small groups of refugees – about 20 at a time – across the frontier from the Ukrainian town of Krakovets.

Groups mainly of women, children and elderly men – rolling their possessions in luggage and carrying infants and the occasional family pet – made their way into makeshift processing centres set up in tents on Polish territory.

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