Updated Jun 3, 2022 - World

UN: Nearly 7 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russian invasion 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 7 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia launched its unprovoked invasion, according to United Nations refugee agency data on Friday.

State of play: The U.N. refugee agency has labeled the exodus 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.

  • Approximately 4,712,784 Ukrainian refugees have been recorded across Europe, according to the UNHCR.
Data: UNHCR; Map: Jared Whalen and Will Chase/Axios
Data: UNHCR; Map: Jared Whalen and Will Chase/Axios

Zoom in: Almost two out of every three children in Ukraine have been displaced by the war, UNICEF said this week.

  • 3 million children inside Ukraine and over 2.2 million children in refugee-hosting countries are in need of humanitarian assistance, UNICEF said.
  • "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.

The big picture: UN aid agencies have warned throughout the war that fuel, cash and medical supplies were dwindling in Ukraine.

  • "The picture is grim and could get worse still," UN emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths told the Security Council in April.
  • "The elderly and people with disabilities find themselves trapped and unable to flee," he added.
  • "Children will miss school and face a great risk of physical harm displacement and unimaginably severe emotional stress. Women, so often disproportionately affected by conflict ... will be at even greater risk of gender-based violence."

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

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