Nearly 4.2million Ukrainians have now flooded out of war-torn homeland

Nearly 4.2million Ukrainians have now flooded out of war-torn homeland – with women and children making up 90% of refugees

  • Nearly 4.2million have now fled Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s invasion 
  • Some 40,000 entered neighbouring nations in the past 24 hours alone, UN says 
  • Women and children are making up 90 per cent of those leaving the country 

Nearly 4.2 million Ukrainian refugees have fled their war-torn country since Russia invaded on February 24.

Almost 40,000 have poured into neighboring countries in the past 24 hours alone, UN figures show, with women and children making up 90 per cent of those leaving as men aged 18 to 60 eligible for military duty are unable to get away.

Some 4,176,401 Ukrainians fled the country devastated by the conflict – with saw horrific images of bodies strewn across the streets of commuter town Bucha emerging on Friday – in just over five weeks.

A refugee from Ukraine holds her child after arriving by ferry at the Romanian-Ukrainian border point Isaccea-Orlivka on March 24

This is up 38,559 from the figure given a day earlier, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said today.

Poland has taken in nearly six of 10 Ukrainian refugees, the UN tally shows, with  2,429,265 having crossed into the country so far.

It’s possible the figure is even higher as Polish border guards today said they have taken in some 2,461,000 people fleeing Ukraine since the invasion began.

Przemysl, a small city on the Polish border, has taken in 800,000 alone, according to its mayor.

At the peak, around 55,000 refugees were arriving in Przemysl – nearly equivalent to its population – daily.

Romania, the border of which is close to the Ukrainian city of Chernivtsi, has seen 635,816 enter from the war-torn nation. 

A large number of these crossed from Moldova, wedged between Romania and Ukraine. 

Refugees from Ukraine stand in line for free train tickets in the hall of the main railway station in Przemysl, near the Polish-Ukrainian border on April 1

The Moldovan border is the closest to the major port city of Odessa, which was hit by air strikes this morning.

Some 392,933 Ukrainians have crossed into the non-EU state, one of the poorest in Europe; however most who entered the country have moved on.

However around 93,000 have stayed, with the UN Development Programme saying that some 80 percent are being housed by private individuals.

People have also fled to Hungary (385,783); Russia (350,632 as of last Tuesday); Slovakia (298,183) and Belarus (12,746 as of last Thursday).

In addition, 113,000 people crossed into Russia from the separatist-held pro-Russian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine between February 21 and 23.

Nearly 6.48 million are also thought to be internally displaced within Ukraine as of mid-March, the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

An Ukrainian refugee holds her child and dog as she waits for a bus at the Palanca-Maiaky-Udobne border crossing point between Moldova and Ukraine, on March 30

Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine had a population of 37 million in the regions under government control, excluding Russia-annexed Crimea and the pro-Russian separatist regions in the east.

Children have been disproportionately affected, with UNICEF recently saying more than half of the country’s estimated 7.5 million children had been displaced; 2.5 million internally and two million abroad.

As of March 31, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 3,257 civilian casualties in Ukraine, with 1,276 killed and 1,981 injured. 

Most casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons and the OHCHR believes the actual figure is considerably higher.    

It comes as the Russian military says it has struck an oil processing plant and fuel depots around the strategic Black Sea port of Odesa.

Refugees receive blankets after fleeing the war from neighboring Ukraine at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, today

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said Russian ships and aircraft today fired missiles to strike the facilities, which he said were used to provide fuel to Ukrainian troops near Mykolaiv.

Konashenkov also said Russian strikes destroyed ammunition depots in Kostiantynivka and Khresyshche.

In an audio message posted by Italian news agency ANSA, Italian photographer Carlo Orlandi said Odessa woke to military sirens at 5.45am, followed immediately by the sounds of bombs falling on the port city from two aircraft.

He described flames coming from the buildings, with ‘a dense screen of dark smoke’ and ‘one explosion after the other’.

Meanwhile local Ukrainian authorities said that Russian troops have continuied shelling in Kharkiv, northeast of the country, with the city’s Governor Oleh Synyehubov saying tanks carried out over 20 strikes in the region over the past 24 hours.  

Refugees in Poland pictured today, after they fled the war from neighboring Ukraine, at the border crossing in Medyka

Smoke rises after an airstrike attack by Russian army in Odessa early on Sunday morning as Russia refocuses on east Ukraine

President Volodymyr Zelensky however said Ukrainian troops retaking areas around Kyiv and Chernihiv are not allowing Russians to retreat without a fight, but are ‘shelling them’ and ‘destroying everyone they can’.

In his Saturday night video address to the nation, the president said Ukraine knows Russia has the forces to put even more pressure on the east and south of Ukraine.

‘What is the goal of the Russian troops? They want to seize the Donbas and the south of Ukraine,’ he said. ‘What is our goal? To defend ourselves, our freedom, our land and our people.’

He said a significant portion of the Russian forces are tied up around Mariupol, where the city’s defenders continue to fight.

He added: ‘Thanks to this resistance, thanks to the courage and resilience of our other cities, Ukraine has gained invaluable time, time that is allowing us to foil the enemy’s tactics and weaken its capabilities.’

Zelensky appealed again to the West for more modern weaponry, such as anti-missile systems and aircraft.

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