More than three million people have now fled Ukraine since Vladimir Putin’s war began, according to the United Nations.
Figures from the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), which mainly includes border agency data, show that at least 3,000,381 people have left the country in the 20 days since the invasion of Russia towards its sovereign neighbor begins.
In the first days of the war, refugee agencies warned they were preparing for about 4 million people to leave Ukraine. But the number is likely to be revised upwards – with Western officials warning last week that the grim forecast could materialize within the next few days.
Refugees in Ukraine are the largest exodus in Europe since the Second World War, Filippo Grandi, head of the UN refugee agency, said on Saturday.
But Western officials have warned that “these are unprecedented movements of people in Europe, or indeed anywhere else in the world”.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime program this week, United Nations Spokesperson for Human Rights Liz Throssell said continued targeting of civilians in Ukraine “could lead to war crimes”.
“Our colleagues are trying to gather the best information possible from as many sources… and put these figures together to give some idea of the human suffering caused by this war, ” she said.
“The bombardments in Mariupol, as in other towns and cities, were on such a scale that it really appeared to be indiscriminate attacks and the bottom line is that under international law, civilians should not be targeted. targets and buildings such as schools, homes, hospitals should not be targets.
“We are really worried about these attacks. We are really concerned about the fact that weapons are being used in densely populated areas… The indiscriminate effects of such weapons are contrary to international law.”
Ms Throssell denied claims by Russian officials, who have claimed that civilians were not targeted, and said “the suffering of civilians is increasing”.
She said there are “credible” reports that cluster bombs are being used by Russian forces and that “poison attacks” in Kharkiv have resulted in the deaths of at least nine civilians.
“Due to the effects of cluster munitions in densely populated areas, their use is inconsistent with international humanitarian law, which says you shouldn’t target civilians, you should be careful to distinguish between civilian and military objects, you should make sure that your attack is proportionate and obviously this is very different from using cluster munitions,” she said.
Ms Throssell said there was growing concern that Ukrainians held “unfairly” by Russian troops could be “tortured” or “mistreated”.
“We absolutely call for their immediate and unconditional release,” she added.
Additional reporting: UK Independent
https://www.independent.ie/news/three-million-people-have-now-fled-war-in-ukraine-un-41453159.html Three million people have now fled the war in Ukraine – UN