The Russian war in Ukraine has hit a grim milestone as the United Nations on Tuesday says that now more than three million refugees have fled the country since the invasion began late last month.
The UNHCR in its latest statement sounded the alarm that "In the coming days millions more lives will be uprooted, unless there is an immediate end to this senseless conflict." The agency said "This is now the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II."
The UN said that during the first 11 days, it recorded at least 1.7 million refugees that have fled, but now on the 20th day, the number has reached 3 million.
Ukraine's internal displacement problem is also rapidly growing, and is expected to fuel a broader exodus into neighboring EU countries like Poland in the coming days and weeks, even as some large Polish cities have begun warning they've reached "capacity".
Writing of Warsaw and Krakow, The Guardian reports that "The mayors of Poland’s two largest cities have said they are struggling to cope with the huge number of refugees arriving from Ukraine, as UN figures show more than 1.7 million people have crossed into Poland in the weeks since the Russia’s attack began." And further, the report says:
Kraków’s mayor, Jacek Majchrowski, said that the city was also reaching its capacity, with 100,000 people arriving in the past two weeks. "Kraków is slowly losing the opportunity to accommodate new waves of refugees," he said, adding that places were now being offered outside the city.
UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo described the rapidly worsening situation in a statement: "Access to conflict-affected communities in hard-hit areas like Mariupol and Kharkiv remains very restricted due to the ongoing military activities and increased presence of landmines, exacerbating humanitarian needs by the day."
The UN is calling for an urgent ceasefire amid the growing humanitarian catastrophe. "We need a ceasefire, we need a cessation of hostilities so that people can stop moving and even go back to their homes perhaps, but under the circumstances, they are all telling me they are afraid too much," UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said.
As of Monday, the UN cited at least 596 civilians killed since the Russian invasion began; however, in Mariupol alone city leaders have said that 1,500 people have died, according to the AP, strongly suggesting the true civilian death toll is significantly higher at this point.
You can read this article as it originally appears at Zero Hedge here.
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