The “senseless war” in Ukraine has forced one million people to flee the country in just seven days, while countless others have been displaced within its borders, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said on Thursday.
“I have worked in refugee emergencies for almost 40 years, and rarely have I seen an exodus as rapid as this one,” he remarked.
“And unless there is an immediate end to the conflict, millions more are likely to be forced to flee Ukraine.”
Commitment to stay
Mr. Grandi reported that staff from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, remain in Ukraine, along with other humanitarians, working where and when they can in frightening conditions.
“Our staff stay, even at great risk, because we know the needs in the country are huge,” he said.
Teams are also working throughout the region to scale-up protection and assistance programmes for the refugees, in support of host governments.
Most of the refugees have headed to Poland and other neighbouring countries such as Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia.
A UNHCR data portal, unveiled on Wednesday, is keeping track of arrivals.
Mr. Grandi commended regional governments and local communities that have taken in refugees, though stressing that ending the conflict is the only solution.
“International solidarity has been heartwarming,” he said. “But nothing – nothing – can replace the need for the guns to be silenced; for dialogue and diplomacy to succeed. Peace is the only way to halt this tragedy.”
More coverage to follow