Updated Aug 24, 2022 - World

UN: Nearly a third of Ukraine's population has been displaced since war began

An evacuated train with people from the Donetsk region arrives at the railway station in Lviv, Ukraine on May 28, 2022.

An evacuated train with people from the Donetsk region arrive at the railway station in Lviv, Ukraine on May 28. Photo: Adri Salido/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Nearly one-third of Ukraine's population have been displaced since Russia launched its unprovoked invasion six months ago, according to United Nations refugee agency data.

State of play: More than 6.6 million Ukrainian refugees have been recorded across Europe and about the same number are displaced inside Ukraine.

  • The U.N. refugee agency has labeled the exodus from Ukraine the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.
  • “The speed of the displacement, coupled with the huge numbers of people affected, is unprecedented in Europe in recent memory,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in late March.
  • “I have spoken with women, with children, who have been gravely affected by this war,” he added.
  • “Forced to flee extraordinary levels of violence, they have left behind their homes and often their families, leaving them shocked and traumatized. The protection and humanitarian needs are enormous, and continue to grow. And while critically urgent, humanitarian aid alone cannot give them what they really need – and that is peace.”

Driving the news: Most Ukrainian refugees have crossed into Poland, and others have gone to Romania, Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia and other European countries. Many have also fled to Russia.

  • More than 11 million border crossings out of Ukraine have been recorded since the start of the war, though the UNHCR noted that the figure denotes cross border movements and not individuals.
  • More than 4.7 million border crossings into Ukraine have been recorded since the start of the war, most of which represent refugees returning home, according to the World Health Organization.
  • Over 6.6 million people remain displaced within Ukraine, the UN refugee agency said in its Aug. 19 flash update report.

Zoom in: At least 972 children in Ukraine have been killed since the start of the war, UNICEF executive director Catherine Russell said in a statement Monday, though she warned the true number is likely higher.

  • "We estimate that 1 in 10 schools have been damaged or destroyed," Russell added.
  • Almost two out of every three children in Ukraine have been displaced by the war, UNICEF said in early June. Three million children inside Ukraine and over 2.2 million children in refugee-hosting countries are in need of humanitarian assistance, UNICEF added.
  • "They have been forced to leave everything behind: Their homes, their schools, and often, their family members," UNICEF emergency programs director Manual Fontaine said.
  • "Every day the war continues, children will continue to suffer," he said.

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Editor's note: This post has been updated with new estimates on the number of refugees.

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