People, who have fled the fighting in the eastern regions
of Ukraine, queue for job vacancies at an employment fair
at the dormitories where they have taken refuge in
Krasnoyarsk. Photo by Reuters
More than one million people have been uprooted by the
conflict in Ukraine, including 260,000 within the country where
further mass displacement is feared due to ongoing fighting,
the United Nations says.
Some Ukrainian nationals have fled by motorcycle to Russia,
while others have escaped the crisis by spending the summer
months at European spas or visiting grandparents, it said.
The total includes 814,000 Ukrainians now in Russia with
various forms of status, as well as compatriots who have fled
to Belarus, Moldova, the three Baltic states and European
Union, a senior official of the U.N. High Commissioner for
"It's safe to say you have over a million people now
displaced as a result of the conflict, internally and
externally together," Vincent Cochetel, director of the
UNHCR's bureau for Europe, told reporters in Geneva.
"I mean 260,000 in Ukraine, it's a low estimate, 814,000 in
Russia, then you add the rest ... Belarus, Moldova, the
Of 814,000 Ukrainian nationals who have entered Russia this
year, 260,000 have applied for some sort of protective
status, he said. The remaining 554,000 have arrived on the
basis of a visa-free regime allowing them to stay up to 270
days, he added.
"We see them arriving sometimes by foot, by bus, by
motorcycle," said Cochetel, recently returned from the
Within Ukraine, most people displaced by earlier fighting
have returned to areas retaken by Kiev's army, Cochetel said.
"In terms of people leaving, recent arrivals over the last
two days, we see less people coming from Luhansk and Donetsk
city themselves. Is it attributable to more controls at
checkpoints or people not able physically to cross through
the lines, we don't know.
"The people that are arriving now are mainly arriving from
Novoazovsk and Bezimenne where fighting was reported this
morning, so it's close to the sea of Azov, it's on the road
to Mariupol, so south of the Donetsk area," he added.
Russian troops are strengthening their positions in eastern
Ukraine and using aid shipments to smuggle in arms and other
supplies to separatist forces, Kiev's military said on
Tuesday (local time).
"RISK OF FURTHER EXODUS"
"In terms of the ongoing fighting, in Donetsk, Luhansk and in
the south of Donetsk oblast (district), we very concerned
about risk of further exodus," Cochetel said.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres is "very
concerned about the risk of further displacement of major
proportion in that part of the country", he said.
Guterres said in a statement: "If this crisis is not quickly
stopped, it will have not only devastating humanitarian
consequences, but it also has the potential to destabilise
the whole region."
In all, 4,106 Ukrainians have applied for asylum in EU
countries led by Poland, Germany and Sweden, UNHCR figures
show. Some 380 Ukrainians have sought asylum in Belarus, but
many more have gone to the former Soviet republic, it said.
"We have reached 20,000 for residence permits in Belarus, the
authorities don't want to call them refugees, they have asked
us not to call them refugees because we don't know what will
happen to those people in the future.
"But that's the visible tip of the iceberg. We believe there
are more people in Moldova," he said.
Ukrainian nationals have also gone to eastern Europe for
summer months and their plans are unclear.
"You have Ukrainians also of Hungarian ethnicity, of Romanian
ethnicity, of Slovak ethnicity. You have many of these people
who have moved during the summer, we thought that is the
seasonal movement, they go to spas, they visit relatives,
kids going to their grandparents for the summer and then they
will return. Are they returning?," Cochetel said. (Reporting
by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Dominic Evans)