More than 5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s February invasion of the country, according to data from the United Nations, making it one of the largest refugee crises in Europe since World War II.
Refugee totals that had begun to stabilize are surging anew as Russia pushes into the country’s west, killing civilians in Lviv, a city seen as a relatively safe place for those displaced by the war but who had not yet fled Ukraine.
“As we approach the two-month mark of the war in Ukraine, reaching 5 million refugees is a grim milestone of the toll Putin’s aggression has taken on civilians. With each day that passes, people who escape are even more vulnerable, having lived through months of conflict with no end in sight,” Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said in a statement to The Hill.
“Five million refugees represents 11 percent of the Ukrainian population — meaning nearly 1 in 8 people has now fled the country.”
More than half of fleeing Ukrainians have settled in nearby Poland. But hundreds of thousands have also landed in Romania, Hungary and Moldova, while more than a half a million Ukrainians have been pushed into Russia.
“It shows how quickly displacement can happen and is reflective, I think, of the violence against civilians by Russia,” said Sunil Varghese, policy director at the International Refugee Assistance Project.
The bulk of those leaving — at least 90 percent, according to the U.N. — are women and children, as men aged 18 to 65 have been barred from leaving Ukraine.
The refugee totals have now surpassed figures first forecasted by U.S. intelligence agencies, which predicted a Russian invasion of Ukraine could lead to anywhere from 1 million to 5 million refugees.
While the majority are expected to remain in Europe, President Biden has committed to taking in 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, a goal that would be met over many years rather than the immediate future.
The U.S. has also offered temporary protected status from deportation to Ukrainians already in the country — a move expected to aid 60,000 Ukrainians.
The Biden administration has also not subjected them to Title 42, which allows for quick expulsion of migrants at the U.S. border without allowing them to seek asylum.