News / Europe

More People Fleeing Fighting In Ukraine As Crisis Deepens

An unidentified refugee woman, carries a young girl, near a dormitory, after being displaced due to shelling, in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, July 13, 2014.
An unidentified refugee woman, carries a young girl, near a dormitory, after being displaced due to shelling, in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, July 13, 2014.
Lisa Schlein

The United Nations refugee agency reports more than 117,000 people are internally displaced in Ukraine and an estimated 168,000 have crossed into Russia.  The UNHCR says humanitarian needs are increasing as the situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate.  

The U.N. refugee agency reports 87 percent of the total number of people displaced inside Ukraine come from the eastern part of the country, where government forces and pro-Russian rebels are waging a brutal war.  The rest of the displaced, some 15,200, have fled from Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in March.

The director of UNHCR’s Europe Office, Vincent Cochetel, has just returned from back-to-back missions to Ukraine and Russia.  He says the estimated number of 117,000 displaced people does not capture the full scope of internal displacement in Ukraine.  He believes the true figure is much higher.  

He says people are fleeing the fighting in eastern Ukraine in great haste, with limited possessions and increasing difficulties.  During the last three weeks, Cochetel says, more than 1,200 people, mostly women and children, have been arriving every day at the frontline reception center bordering the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.  

“Some of them arrived with almost no belongings or got some of their belongings confiscated at checkpoints.  We see many families separated because the men are fearful to register.  Some do not see any benefit of registering.  Some fear some potential retaliation if they return later on, and some fear to be drafted in Ukrainian army," said Cochetel.

Cochetel says he was quite struck by the level of destruction he saw during his visit.  He says basic services and infrastructure have been heavily affected by the increased violence and water is becoming increasingly scarce.  He says many houses and buildings are either partially or completely destroyed in conflict-affected areas of Donetsk and Luhansk.  

“That is what we are scared about, is that with the way the military operations are conducted, what will happen if we have an intense fighting inside the big urban center of Luhansk or Donetsk.  So far, the fighting is in the suburb, but not in the city center.  Fighting in highly dense urban area could lead to massive exodus or massive destruction.  There are still 1.5 million people living in Donetsk as we speak," he said.

Cochetel says a mixed picture of displacement is emerging.  He notes a substantial number of people are returning to areas where the Ukrainian government has regained control.  He says people are getting tired of the current situation of violence and instability and want to get back to a normal life.

The Russian authorities report that about 730,000 Ukrainians have arrived since the beginning of the conflict.  It says around 80 percent of Ukrainians are staying in border areas, while others are moving in with friends or relatives in other parts of the country.  

The UNHCR says most Ukrainians leaving their country are not applying for refugee status because they fear this will lead to complications.  It says they prefer to stay in Russia under the visa-free regime, which allows them to remain in Russia for up to 270 days.

Cochetel says at least more than 50 percent of these people say they would like to return to Ukraine at some stage.  The others have not made up their minds.

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop illegal money flow from continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid