Updated Feb 25, 2022 - World

UN: Over 50,000 people fled Ukraine in less than 48 hours

Ukrainian women and children are seen after crossing the Slovak-Ukrainian border to leave Ukraine in Ubla, eastern Slovakia, close to the Ukrainian city of Welykyj Beresnyj, on February 25, 2022
Ukrainian women and children after crossing the Slovak-Ukrainian border into Ubla, eastern Slovakia, on Friday. Photo: Peter Lazar/AFP via Getty Images

More than 50,000 Ukrainians have fled their country in less than 48 hours and "many more are moving towards" Ukraine's borders, the United Nations refugee agency said Friday.

Driving the news: A majority of those displaced fled to Poland and Moldova, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi tweeted Friday.

  • "Heartfelt thanks to the governments and people of countries keeping their borders open and welcoming refugees," he said.
  • "The situation is incredibly fluid. We're already hearing reports of people being forced to flee their homes," head of global communications for the UN refugee agency Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams said.

State of play: United Nations aid agencies warned Friday that fuel, cash and medical supplies were dwindling in Ukraine, which could lead up to 5 million people to flee the country, Reuters reports.

  • "As we speak, there have been major attacks in Kyiv that have created great fear and panic among the population, with families really scared, moving alongside their children into subways and shelters," Afshan Khan, UNICEF regional director for Europe and Central Asia, said at a press briefing.
  • "This is clearly a terrifying moment for children across the country," she added.
  • The UN refugee agency estimated on Thursday that more than 100,000 people had been displaced.

The big picture: Ukrainian rules prevent men ages 18 to 60, who could be enlisted, from crossing the border, so the majority of Ukrainians escaping to bordering countries are women and children.

What they're saying: "We left my husband there, so he is still there supporting our government," said Iryna, 36, who left Kyiv on Thursday with her mother and two girls, aged 2 and 4, for Slovakia.

  • "We pray for Ukraine and I hope everything will be fine," Iryna told Reuters.

Go deeper: The latest on the Russia-Ukraine crisis

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.

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