More than 4 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Feb. 24; 2.3 million to Poland

The United Nations estimates over 4 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Feb. 24. Escaping Russian bombs and bullets, more than 2.3 million have come to neighbouring Poland.

“Everyone in the column behind us was shot,” a recent arrival from the hard-hit Ukrainian city of Mariupol said in Medyka, Poland. “We managed to escape.”

“It will go further,” another Ukrainian refugee in Poland said. “The world should prepare for more waves to come.”

The latest data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) shows how Poland has taken in the most refugees since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Countries bordering Ukraine have accepted over a million more, with Poland followed by Romania at 600,000, Moldova at 385,000, Hungary at 360,00 and Slovakia at 280,000.

“Hopefully the trend of new arrivals will decrease,” UNHCR senior policy advisor Alex Mundt said. “But I don’t think there’s any guarantee of that until there’s a political solution.”

Refugees have also travelled further west to Germany, France and the U.K., and south to Spain and Italy.

Italy has taken in more than 60,000 Ukrainians and has committed to more than double that number. The country receives more refugees than any other in Europe, including people from Syria, Afghanistan and North Africa. Those who arrive can stay for up to 90 days before they have to apply for a permit.

At a refugee shelter for women in Rome, 54-year-old Zhanna Valeuska says she packed one bag, all she was allowed, and loaded onto a train heading west. The distance between the capital cities of Rome and Kyiv is roughly the same as between Winnipeg and Toronto.

Valeuska hopes she will one day be able to return home.

“The beautiful place, now many of [those] places destroyed,” she told CTV News. “We think to return to Ukraine.”

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