Some 5 Million Refugees Flee Ukraine In Less Than 2 Months

It is the largest refugee crisis Europe has seen since World War II.
Posted at 8:40 PM, Apr 20, 2022
and last updated 2024-04-16 12:30:10-04

Putin's war has forced 5 million refugees to flee Ukraine in less than two months. 

"This is staggering amount of people that had to leave their homes, their possessions, in some cases family members behind," United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo said.

It is the largest refugee crisis Europe has seen since World War II. And it doesn't even account for the 7,500,000 Ukrainians still in the country that have abandoned their homes and are living elsewhere in Ukraine. 

And with Russian forces scaling up their offensive in eastern Ukraine, the impact is growing more severe. 

"Millions of families, millions of lives have been shattered and their lives torn apart by this war," Mantoo continued.

One mother described giving birth to her child in southern Ukraine just a month before the war began. She fought to hold back tears as she described hiding with her newborn baby in the basement as Russian bombs fell.

More than half of Ukrainian refugees have fled to Poland. They include people like 40-year-old Victoriya Savyichkina. She and her two daughters escaped besieged Mariupol. They're now safe in Warsaw, but her family's apartment building was destroyed, like much of the city. More than 100,000 people are still caught in the crosshairs there, according to Ukrainian officials. 

"We cry, we all have the feeling that there is no home," Savyichkina says. "There is no idea where to go, what to do, where to run. That is very scary."

While millions have fled through border crossings, there are millions more who are trapped in areas where the fighting rages on.

Those stranded in Mariupol have no food, water, or heat. Even with offers to evacuate, most don't trust the Russians.  

"They didn't allow this for 50 days," Mariupol Deputy Mayor Sergii Orlov said. "Why should they allow this now?"

President Zelenskyy says Ukrainian forces have not been able to "unblock" the city.

"There are two ways to unblock Mariupol. The first one is serious, heavy-armed help that we and they (Ukrainian troops in Mariupol) are counting on," he said. "The second way is diplomatic. Russia doesn't agree on it yet." 

Meanwhile, a desperate need for aid grows both in and out of the country. 

"No pile of blankets, no sum of cash, no amount of medicine is going to halt the death and destruction," U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Kelly Clements said. "Aid alone will not stop people forced by war to flee. Nor will it give them what they really want and need: peace and safety at home."

It's a crisis everywhere you turn, with 13 million Ukrainians stuck in war-torn areas and unable to flee.  

Some 500,000 have fled to Lviv, which was once considered a safe haven to many fleeing the violence. But now, with Russian missiles targeting the area in recent days, no place seems safe.