GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations refugee agency said Monday that more than 500,000 people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded the country last week.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, gave this estimate in a tweet:
According to UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo, the latest count, which continues to rise, shows 281,000 people entering Poland, more than 84,500 in Hungary, around 36,400 in Moldova, more than 32,500 in Romania. and around 30,000 in Slovakia.
The rest were dispersed to other unidentified countries, she said.
Another train carrying hundreds of Ukrainian refugees arrived early Monday in the town of Przemysl in southeastern Poland.
In winter coats to protect themselves from near-freezing temperatures, with small suitcases, they lined up on the platform to the exit. Some waved to the cameras to show they felt relieved to be out of the war zone. Many were making phone calls.
Poland and Hungary’s welcome to Ukrainians today is very different from the unwelcoming stance they have had towards refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa in recent years. Hungary built a wall to keep them out when a million people, including many Syrians fleeing war, arrived in Europe in 2015.
Poland is building its own wall with Belarus after thousands of migrants, mostly from the Middle East, sought to enter from Belarus in recent months. The EU has accused Belarus, backed by Russia, of encouraging this wave of migration to destabilize the EU. Some of those people banned from entering Poland died in the forests.
But Ukrainians are perceived very differently by Poles and others because they are mostly Christians and, for Poles, other Slavs with similar linguistic and cultural roots.
Transcarpathia, the westernmost region of Ukraine that borders Hungary, is also home to around 150,000 ethnic Hungarians, many of whom are also Hungarian citizens. While the Russian invasion has yet to extend to this area, which is separated from the rest of Ukraine by the Carpathian Mountains, many have decided not to wait for things to get worse.