Millions of Ukrainian refugees are fleeing: where are they going?


Millions of refugees flee Ukraine amid Russian attacks. They outnumber the population of almost any US city, including Chicago.

“I have worked on refugee crises for nearly 40 years, and rarely have I seen such an incredibly rapid exodus of people,” said Filippo Grandi, the high commissioner of the united nations refugee agency.

The nations surrounding Ukraine have all taken in refugees, the majority of whom have gone to Poland, the third largest Slavic country after Russia and Ukraine. Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Russia and Moldova have each taken in more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.

Evacuees board a train for Poland, at Lviv station in western Ukraine on March 5, 2022.
DANIEL LEAL, AFP via Getty Images

Staying in a war-torn country is dangerous in the face of Russian military strikes and bombardment, but so is the journey to leave. A 6-year-old Ukrainian who arrived in Poland described his five-day journey to the border as “bombs, bombs, bombs”.

The war in Ukraine has injured at least 1,333 civilians and killed at least 816 since Russian attacks began on February 24, according to United Nations estimates, although the world body expects the death toll to be higher than the confirmed balances.

‘Bombs, bombs, bombs’: Ukrainian refugees describe harrowing trip to Poland

Children walk past a line of cars heading towards the Polish border near Shehyni, western Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022.
Children walk past a line of cars heading towards the Polish border near Shehyni, western Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022.
Pavlo Palamarchuk, AP

Many Ukrainian refugees do not stay in the countries where they originally sought asylum. For example, as of March 16, about two-thirds of people who entered Moldova from Ukraine had left the country and continued on to Romania, according to the International Organization for Migration. Since borders are open within Europe’s Schengen area – which includes Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and most Western European countries – it is more difficult to know where refugees are going if and when. they leave these countries.

While refugees have been received in many towns and villages, some locations have reached capacity. The mayor of Krakow, one of Poland’s biggest cities, said he was reaching his limit in terms of the number of people he could accommodate and was looking to direct refugees to places outside the city. town. The Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, which does not border Ukraine but has taken in more than 270,000 Ukrainian refugees, said of his country: “We have to admit that we are at the limit when we can accept without problem”.

In addition to those leaving the country, the International Organization for Migration estimated on Wednesday that nearly 6.5 million people have been displaced inside Ukraine.

Clockwise from top: Fleeing refugees make their way to the Krakovets border crossing with Poland; people rest in a temporary shelter for Ukrainian refugees near the Polish-Ukrainian border; a child who fled the war looks out the window of a bus in Przemysl, Poland.
Clockwise from top: Fleeing refugees make their way to the Krakovets border crossing with Poland; people rest in a temporary shelter for Ukrainian refugees near the Polish-Ukrainian border; a child who fled the war looks out the window of a bus in Przemysl, Poland.
Clockwise from top: Fleeing refugees make their way to the Krakovets border crossing with Poland; people rest in a temporary shelter for Ukrainian refugees near the Polish-Ukrainian border; a child who fled the war looks out the window of a bus in Przemysl, Poland.
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images; Louisa Gouliamaki, AFP via Getty Images; Daniel Cole, AP

Tens of thousands of asylum seekers continue to leave Ukraine every day, with the total number reaching over three million. Due to the imposition of martial law, the Ukrainian government has temporarily banned men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country. This means that most refugees are women, children and the elderly.

Ukrainian Pavlo Bilodid, 33, hugs his wife and daughter as they prepare to board a bus to Poland at the main bus station in Lviv, western Ukraine, on Tuesday, March 1, 2022.
Ukrainian Pavlo Bilodid, 33, hugs his wife and daughter as they prepare to board a bus to Poland at the main bus station in Lviv, western Ukraine, on Tuesday, March 1, 2022.
Bernat Armangue, PA

Financial support is one of the best ways to help Ukraine. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees provides support to refugees through emergency shelter, repairs to houses damaged by shelling, emergency financial aid and psychological help. Donate to UNHCR’s relief efforts on its website.

Find other organizations to support to help Ukraine: 9 ways to help Ukraine

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