Russia’s attacks on Ukraine have been relentless, and the war has forced more than three million people to flee the country in search of safety, according to U.N. data. Both the U.N.’s refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration estimate that the number of civilians fleeing could eventually reach four or five million.
In addition to the nearly three million refugees, almost two million Ukrainians have been internally displaced, according to the U.N.’s humanitarian agency. The U.N. said it is now the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.
“This tragedy must stop,” the U.N. refugee agency said on Tuesday. The U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, decried the “senseless war.”
Many of the fleeing civilians have sought refuge in neighboring Poland. Poland’s top diplomat, Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, said Monday that his country has taken in 1.6 million people — and on Tuesday, that number grew to 1.8 million.
Rau said Ukrainians are not only welcome, but they are also given medical care, relocation, housing, and educational and employment opportunities. Nevertheless, he said his country needs assistance to properly take in refugees.
“There is no country that can handle this kind of humanitarian crisis on its own,” he said.
Romania (459,485), Moldova (337,215), Hungary (267,570) and Slovakia (213,000) have also become part of the refugee effort. Just over 144,000 people have fled to Russia and Belarus, according to the U.N. refugee agency.
Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the U.N.’s Secretary-General, highlighted the impact of the refugee crisis on children. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres told reporters on Monday that the “vast majority” of those fleeing the country are women and children, who are becoming “increasingly vulnerable.”
“Every day for the past 20 days, 70,000 children in Ukraine have become refugees […] equivalent to 55 children fleeing the country every minute, according to the UN Children’s Fund – nearly one every second,” Haq said.
UNICEF and Save the Children, which are working to provide education to children amid the crisis, said the education and well-being of 5.7 million children and adolescents between 3 and 17 years old has been impacted by the fighting.