Ukrainian refugees surpass 5M, says UN

Ukrainian refugees surpass 5M, says UN

UN Refugee Agency head joins in call for ‘humanitarian pause to war in Ukraine’ ahead of Orthodox Easter

By Peter Kenny

GENEVA - More than 5 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia launched a war in the country two months ago, the UN said Wednesday.

The UN refugee agency said the number of people fleeing Ukraine is now 5,034,439 as it joined in a call for a humanitarian pause to war in Ukraine ahead of Orthodox Easter.

More than 2.8 million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring Poland, more than 757,000 to Romania, more than 471,000 to Hungary, almost 427,000 to Moldova, and nearly 343,000 to Slovakia, the UNHCR said.

Almost 550,000 people have left for Russia since it launched its war on Ukraine on Feb. 24.

More than 7 million people are estimated to be internally displaced in Ukraine, it added.

UNHCR head Filippo Grandi said in a tweet on Wednesday: “A humanitarian pause to war in Ukraine ahead of Orthodox Easter is the appeal made by @UN Secretary-General.

“This is more urgent than ever amidst an increase in Russian airstrikes, the escalation of war in eastern Ukraine, and countless lives uprooted and lost."

Christian Orthodoxy is the major religion in both Russia and Ukraine.

The Russian Orthodox Church, which has followers in Ukraine, has supported President Vladimir Putin’s war effort through statements by its Patriarch Kirill.

Orthodox believers in Russia and Ukraine celebrate Easter, one of the most important feasts for Christians, one week after churches in the West. This year it will fall on April 24.

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine no longer follows the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church.

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