More than four million Ukrainians have now fled the country to escape Russia’s “senseless war”, the United Nations said Wednesday.
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said 4,019,287 Ukrainians had fled across the country’s borders since the February 24 invasion, with more than 2.3 million having headed west into Poland.
“Refugees from Ukraine are now four million, five weeks after the start of the Russian attack,” UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said on Twitter.
“I have just arrived in Ukraine. In Lviv I will discuss with the authorities, the UN and other partners ways to increase our support to people affected and displaced by this senseless war.”
The number of refugees has surpassed UNHCR’s initial estimate that the war could create up to four million.
The agency says the speed and scale of the displacement is unprecedented in Europe since World War II.
Women and children account for 90 percent of those who have fled. Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 are eligible for military call-up and cannot leave.
The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that in addition to Ukrainian refugees, close to 200,000 non-Ukrainians living, studying and working in the country have also left.
And as of March 16, some 6.48 million people were estimated to be internally displaced within Ukraine, according to an IOM representative survey.
“They need urgent life-saving aid,” the organization said Wednesday.
“In response to the war in Ukraine, IOM has scaled up its effort to prevent the trafficking of persons both in the country and among those moving throughout the region,” it added.
Before Russia’s February 24 invasion, Ukraine had a population of 37 million in the regions under government control, excluding Russia-annexed Crimea and the pro-Russian separatist regions in the east.