More than a fifth of the 44 million people who lived in Ukraine before Russia invaded the country last month were internally displaced or fled to other countries, according to the British Guardian newspaper. Estimates from the United Nations.
And for those who remain in the country, millions face a daily struggle for survival as cities hard hit by the fighting are short of food, lack clean water, have no access to medical care and operate in many places without heating and electricity.
United nations’ The International Organization for Migration said in a report this month “More than 12 million people are stranded in the affected areas or unable to leave due to increased security risks, destroyed bridges and roads, as well as a lack of resources or information on where to find safety and accommodation.”
The United Nations on Friday completed its first convoy of urgent humanitarian aid to one of the worst-hit cities in eastern Ukraine, delivering medical supplies, bottled water, ready meals and canned food to help some 35,000 people in Sumy.
“We hope this is the first of many shipments being delivered to people trapped by the fighting,” said Amin Awad, the UN Crisis Coordinator in Ukraine.
The speed with which the humanitarian crisis unfolded is unprecedented in recent European history, turning what had been a peaceful nation into a nightmare of destruction and death in a matter of weeks. More than three million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24, and some 6.5 million people have been forced from their homes by the fighting, according to the International Organization for Migration.
There is no reliable data on the full civilian death toll. The United Nations said on Friday that at least 816 Ukrainian civilians have died since the invasion began, including 59 children, figures it says are likely an underestimate.
Efforts to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people from cities across eastern and southern Ukraine continued to be undermined on Saturday by intense fighting and ceasefire violations.
“More than 9,000 people have been evacuated from the besieged Mariupol,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his address to the nation. “In all, more than 180,000 Ukrainians have been rescued by humanitarian corridors.”
But this represents only a fraction of the millions still believed to be trapped by the fighting and in dire need of relief or escape. Mr. Zelensky accused Russian forces of deliberately preventing humanitarian aid from reaching the besieged cities.
He said, “This is a war crime.” Every Russian figure who issues such orders and every Russian soldier who carries out such orders will be identified. And they will get a mandatory one-way ticket to The Hague, the city where the International Criminal Court is located.”
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