UN Says 3.1 Million Ukrainians Have Become Refugees Since Start of War

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNRA), more than 3.1 million Ukrainian refugees had fled the country since President Vladimir Putin’s Russian invasion.

Most refugees fled the country to Poland. but large numbers of Ukrainians have also sought refugeFrom the conflict in Romania and Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia.

The UN agency that oversees the refugee crisis stated that almost half of all refugees are children. The UN stated that more than 1.5 million children fled Ukraine since February 24, which is approximately 75,000 children per day on average.

“Every single minute, 55 children have fled their country. That is, a Ukrainian child has become a refugee almost every single second since the start of the war,” UNICEF spokesperson James Elder noted.

Other UN officials also recognized that large numbers of refugees had fled Ukraine.

“Today we have passed another terrible milestone: three million refugees have fled from Ukraine,” Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, tweeted earlier this week. “The war has to stop. Now.”

“The people of Ukraine desperately need peace,” UN Secretary General António Guterres said on Wednesday. “And the people around the world demand it. Russia must stop this war now.”

There are 2 million Ukrainians internally displaced, in addition to the 3.1million who have fled the country. The UN is working “to ensure safe passage from besieged areas, and to provide aid where security permits,” Guterres said in a separate statement.

Nevertheless, Monday saw only 600,000 Ukrainian refugees receive some form of UN aid. To increase that number, Guterres announced that the UN would release $40 million from the organization’s Central Emergency Response Fund.

The international community’s response to the refugee crisis has generally been positive, with several neighboring nations welcoming Ukrainians at their borders. Politicians from all political parties have spoken out in the United States to support and welcome Ukrainian refugees. Some also pointed out the differences in treatment of refugees from Ukraine and the Global South.

“How the world treats Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees should be how we are treating all refugees in the United States,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic Representative from New York, stated earlier this month, “especially when you look at such stark juxtapositions where so many of the factors are in common.”

Refugee aid workers all over the world have also observed the hypocrisy in the way different peoples are treated.

“The situation is very different,” compared to previous years, Warsaw-based human rights lawyer Marta Górczyńska said to Al Jazeera. In 2021, for instance, while trying to help Iraqi refugees enter Poland, “you had to deal with the hostility from the authorities, harassing and intimidating you, telling you that actually, it’s not legal to help people who are crossing the border from Belarus to Poland.”

“There was a state of emergency introduced and a ban of entry to the border area, which meant that no humanitarian organizations, human rights organizations, or even journalists were allowed to enter,” Górczyńska added. “[Now]The Polish authorities [are] welcoming refugees fleeing Ukraine with open arms and providing them with assistance.”

The refugee crisis is also highlighting hypocrisy and racism in a different way: nonwhite refugees from Ukraine say they’re being treated much differently than their white counterparts. Students from Africa who fled Ukraine were shocked to learn that Ukrainians received preferential treatment at the border with Ukraine. CBS News reported.

“Mostly they would, they would consider White people first. White people first, Indian people, Arabic people before Black people,” a student from Ghana, Ethel Ansaeh Otto, said.

“We went to the train station and they will not let us in,” said Selma El Alaui, a student from Morocco. “And when they did let us in, they were like, ‘You have to give us money because this is, this is not for free for you because you are foreign. This is not free for you.”