“We have now reached the milestone of 3 million people moving from Ukraine to neighboring countries. And among these people are about 157,000 third-country nationals,” said Paul Dillon, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (International Organization for Migration).IOM), speaking in Geneva.
About 1.5 million children have now joined the exodus from Ukraine, at a rate of just under a second per second, since the Russian invasion began on February 24.
“Every day, for the past 20 days, in Ukraine more than 70,000 children have become refugees. Every minute, 55 children are fleeing the country,” said James Elder, a spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UN Children’s Fund).UNICEF).
Fear of trading
Noting that nine out of 10 people fleeing unrelenting violence in Ukraine are women and children, Mr Elder warned that young people are prey for traffickers, when they arrive in unfamiliar surroundings.
“To get a feel for the border I’ve been to – the main border, Medyka, Poland with Ukraine – it’s a lot of people standing around buses and minivans calling out the names of capital cities – or at least a week ago — people get those things,” he said. “Of course, the vast majority, the overwhelming majority are people of great intentions and great generosity, but certainly from what we understand about human trafficking in Europe, it is still a very, very, very, very, very, very, very serious.”
The development follows a warning from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who on Monday said Russia’s military offensive against civilians has “reached terrifying proportions”.
In Mariupol, humanitarians warned that the situation in the port city had worsened further, following heavier Russian bombardment.
Hundreds of thousands of people are being “suffocated” for lack of supplies and unable to flee the city, besieged by Russian forces.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Tuesday described the situation as “catastrophic and desperate”.
Spokesman Ewan Watson said: “The bottom line here is that hundreds of thousands of people are still without aid today. “They can’t leave the city today and they’re basically suffocating in this city right now without aid.”
Mr. Watson also confirmed that “some vehicles… were able to leave the city yesterday. The ICRC was not involved in evacuating that population. But what I mean is it’s really a drop in the ocean.”
As families were forced to draw water from springs and wars broke out over food, Mr Watson urged Ukrainian and Russian authorities to find a way to make aid reach the city’s residents. .
The ICRC spokesman also announced that the Foundation intends to evacuate people from the besieged northeastern city of Sumy on Tuesday, using 30 buses.
© UNICEF / Viktor Moskaliuk
UN boosts aid
Across the country, UN humanitarians are delivering lifesaving aid where they can reach. But Mr. Elder of UNICEF has reported “time and again indiscriminate attacks on critical infrastructure, especially water, that have been targeted.
“According to anecdotes from co-workers there, we know of families canceling all fireplaces to take out cooling water as a last resort, as something to drink.”