The United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimates that by July, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war would have created four million refugees.
This is close to the number of refugees that the Venezuelan crisis had created, according to the UN agency’s numbers. It also means that almost 10 per cent of Ukraine’s population will now be refugees.
According to UNHCR’s website, between February 24 and March 8, since the beginning of the Russian invasion, 20,11,312 people have become refugees from Ukraine. “In the first week, more than a million refugees from Ukraine crossed borders into neighbouring countries, As the situation continues to unfold, an estimated 4 million people may flee Ukraine,” the UNHCR says in its website.
Close to 60 per cent of them, 12,04,403 people, have fled to Poland. Another major chunk of people has left to bordering countries like Hungary and Slovakia. As of March 9, the most movement of people occurred on March 6, out of Ukraine. On that day alone, 208,938 people moved out of Ukraine. UNHCR estimates that by July, Poland alone will house almost 1.5 million Ukraine refugees. Hungary and Romania will receive a quarter million refugees each, 100,000 people will move to Moldova and 60,000 to Slovakia.
Nearly 5 per cent of them have crossed the eastern border to go to Russia. That is 99,300 people. Additionally, another 96,000 people moved to the Russian Federation from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions between February 18 and 23.
Bhaswati Sarkar, a Professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Centre for European Studies, pointed out that this shows a difference in the Eastern and Western sides of Ukraine. “Those who moved to Russia are mostly Russian speakers,” she says. Russian is also a language spoken by around 30 per cent of the Ukrainian population, according to the Database of State Statistics Committee of Ukraine.
To impact economies
A huge refugee inflow will certainly impact the economies of host countries. According to their Regional Refugee Response Plan, between March and August, it will require $550 million to solve the refugee problem. As expected, the highest estimate of $202 million is for Poland, while for Moldova, it is $121 million. Six other UN bodies and five non-profits too have partnered with them to work during the crisis.
At the same time, the World Bank on Monday had approved a $723-million package of loans and grants for Ukraine. It also said that it is continuing to work on another $3 billion package of support for Ukraine in coming months. During the Crimea conflict of 2014, UNHCR says that at least 1.4 million people were internally displaced. Sarkar says that at that time too, most people who crossed borders went to Poland.