Newsweek, February 2022
Thousands of Ukrainians have fled their country since the Russian invasion this week, pushing concerns about the next potential refugee crisis in Europe at the forefront. The UN Refugee Agency tweeted on Sunday that 368,000 Ukrainians fled the country and the number “continues to rise.”
The figure increased from the number that the agency confirmed to Newsweek on Friday, which was at least 100,000 individuals within Ukraine have been displaced and over 50,000 people out of a population of nearly 44 million left the country since the attacks began.
Meanwhile, U.N. agencies estimate that the invasion could result in around 5 million refugees fleeing Ukraine. The majority of those who have fled arrived to neighboring countries including Moldova, Poland, and Romania. However, there are “many more moving towards its borders,” the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said on Twitter.
Afshan Khan, the UNICEF regional director for Europe and Central Asia, said on Friday during a U.N. press briefing in Geneva that 1 to 3 million refugees could arrive to Poland and “a scenario of 1 to 5 million including all surrounding countries.”
“This would represent the largest number of displaced people fleeing to Europe since 1946-48, when an entire agency UNRRA (the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) spent some €40bn ($46bn) in today’s money to deal with the millions of displaced persons,” former Estonia president and Nonresident Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, wrote in a report in January, who also estimated that 3 to 4 million Ukrainians could be displaced.
However, some experts don’t think that the current Ukrainian refugee situation is a crisis yet, but that the countries receiving them could be challenged.