UN braces for more travel after Russian strikes in Ukraine

The UN refugee chief warned on Monday that more people would be forced to flee their homes in Ukraine after Russian missiles rained down on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities.

Earlier on Monday, Moscow unleashed the biggest wave of strikes across Ukraine in months in retaliation for an explosion over the weekend that damaged a key bridge linking Russia with the Crimean peninsula.

The bridge is a symbol of the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

“The horror of what happened in Ukraine today…is inexcusable,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told reporters in Geneva.

“The indiscriminate bombing of civilians, houses…, non-military infrastructure in many cities in Ukraine means that war is becoming more and more difficult for civilians,” he said.

“I fear that the events of the past few hours will cause more displacement.”

Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, more than 7.6 million Ukrainian refugees have been registered across Europe.

While a number of those people have since returned, more than 4.2 million Ukrainians have registered for temporary protected status in EU countries.

Nearly seven million more people have also been displaced in the conflict-torn country, according to the UN’s International Organization for Migration.

Grandi said he expected to see people fleeing mainly to Ukraine after Monday’s attacks, which Kyiv said left at least 14 people dead and nearly 100 injured.

“My prognosis…is that we will see mostly internal displacement,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of the prestigious UNHCR Nansen Prize ceremony, which was awarded this year to the former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Grandi said the current travel situation in Ukraine was “extremely fluid”.

“You have people fleeing for just a few hours, to escape the bombs…and then try to go home,” he said.

But in situations where the destruction is greater, and where people no longer have access to heating or food, “I fear that the displacements will not last longer”.

Russia news

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