In what may be the largest movement of people in Europe since the Second World War, nearly 5 million Ukrainian refugees have fled their homes in the 50 days since Russia invaded the country.
The data, which comes from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), paints a stunning picture of the unimaginable effect the war has had on Ukrainians.
Since the start of the war on February 24th, 4,736,471 refugees from Ukraine have been counted by the UNHCR, and 79,962 have fled the country in the last 24 hours.
Due to the country’s rule prohibiting able-bodied men aged 18-60 from leaving the country, an estimated 90 percent of the refugees are women and children.
In addition to 4.7 million refugees, 7 million Ukrainians internally displaced
Apart from the nearly 5 million refugees who have fled the country, there are an estimated 7.1 million Ukrainians who have been internally displaced, meaning that they were forced to flee their homes but have not left the country, according to the International Organization for Migration (ΙΟΜ).
This means that over 12 million people in Ukraine, a country which had a population of over 44 million before the war, have been forced to flee their homes.
Additionally, there are over 200,000 people who are not of Ukrainian descent but who were living in the country who have since fled Ukraine. Many of them have faced challenges returning to their home countries.
While Ukrainian refugees have found shelter in countries across the world, including Greece, the vast majority have sought refuge in the neighboring countries of Poland, Romania, Hungary, Moldova, and Slovakia with Poland sheltering the largest number of refugees.
Poland has welcomed over 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees since the war started, according to data from the UNHCR. Romania has welcomed 716,797 refugees while Hungary has taken in 440,387.
Moldova and Slovakia have provided safe haven for 417,650 and 326,244 Ukrainian refugees, respectively.
Atrocities in Ukrainian cities
Many refugees are fleeing unimaginable atrocities in their home country. Images from the city of Bucha in Ukraine released in early April show civilian bodies—many with bound hands, close-range gunshot wounds, and signs of torture—strewn across a street following the withdrawal of Russian forces, and reporters observed a mass grave in the town with residents saying they believe at least 150 people are buried there.
Western outrage intensified with EU leaders denouncing “massacres,” “atrocities,” and “possible genocide.” The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said the bloc was urgently working on a new round of sanctions against Moscow.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says the EU is ready to send joint investigations teams to Ukraine to document alleged Russian war crimes and crimes against humanity. Additionally, she has spoken with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the “dreadful murders” that were uncovered over the weekend.