‘Fastest Growing Refugee Crisis In Europe Since World War II’: More Than 1.5 Million Have Fled Ukraine Since Russian Invasion
Wrapped in blankets, these children from the Ukrainian war zone sit on a bench in Berlin's main train station.
Paul Zinken/picture alliance via Getty Image

More than 1.5 million Ukrainians have fled their country since Russia’s invasion, creating the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

The news came from the head of the United Nations’ refugee agency on Sunday.

Filippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, shared the update in a Twitter post as he visited nations bordering Ukraine.

While most refugees have fled to neighboring Poland, other nations have received a major influx of Ukrainians in recent days.

Neighboring Moldova reported on Sunday that more than 230,000 Ukrainians have fled into the nation since February 24. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Moldovan President Maia Sandu during his trip to eastern Europe on Sunday, offering support with refugee efforts.

In addition, a growing number of Ukrainian have fled farther west, with many reaching Germany. German Federal Police have registered 37,786 refugees as of Sunday, an interior ministry spokesperson told CNN.

“However, given the absence of border checks between Poland and Germany, the actual number of incoming people could be significantly higher, the ministry said,” according to the report.

The European Union has stepped in with a reported $547 million in humanitarian funds to help cover the costs of Ukrainian refugees living in EU nations.

In addition to those who have fled Ukraine, many others have been trapped within the nation as Russian forces continue attacks. One proposed ceasefire to allow Ukrainians to escape was stopped after shelling continued by Russian forces.

On Sunday, the Associated Press reported that an official in the Donetsk region said, “Russian forces will observe a temporary cease-fire Sunday in two Ukrainian cities. An agreement to allow civilians to evacuate collapsed a day earlier amid continued shelling and the flight of refugees to neighboring nations.”

According to the report, “Ukrainian officials confirmed that evacuations from Mariupol would take place starting from 12 p.m. local time. Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional military administration, said a ceasefire would be in effect between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.”

Trains have served as a major transportation method for many leaving Ukraine. However, in some areas train tracks have been destroyed during the invasion, leaving buses as the only way out.

According to Isobel Koshiw, a journalist in Ukraine, “Ukrainian authorities have sent a dozen buses to take the evacuees further. Shelling is quite frequent on the side. Some evacuees say they saw Russian tanks, other say they were just bombed constantly – hard to verify.”

On Saturday, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dymtro Kuleba uploaded a video to Twitter to urge NATO nations to act now, claiming Russia’s shelling is seeking to “turn Ukraine into Syria.”

“Took part in the extraordinary meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers. My message: act now before it’s too late. Don’t let Putin turn Ukraine into Syria. We are ready to fight. We will continue fighting. But we need partners to help us with concrete, resolute and swift actions, now,” Kuleba wrote.

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