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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

9/3/2014 (8 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Many head to Russia and other former Soviet Union nations

The United Nations has reported that the conflict in Ukraine, which began back in February 2014, has uprooted more than a million people, with even further mass displacement feared as fighting continues.

Ukrainian refugees at a Russian train station.

Ukrainian refugees at a Russian train station.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/3/2014 (8 months ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Europe, Ukraine, Russia, European Union, International


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The total includes 814,000 Ukrainians now in Russia with various forms of status, as well as others who have fled to Belarus, Moldova, the three Baltic states and the European Union, and a further 260,000 that have fled within Ukraine, a senior official with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said.

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"It's safe to say you have over a million people now displaced as a result of the conflict, internally and externally together," said Vincent Cochetel, director of the UNHCR's bureau for Europe.

"I mean 260,000 in Ukraine, it's a low estimate, 814,000 in Russia, then you add the rest ... Belarus, Moldova, the European Union."

Among the 814,000 Ukrainian nationals who have entered Russia, 260,000 have applied for protective status of some sort, and the remaining 554,000 have arrived on the basis of a visa-free regime allowing them to stay for up to 270 days.

"We see them arriving sometimes by foot, by bus, by motorcycle," he said, having recently returned from the region.

He also said that within Ukraine, most people displaced by earlier fighting have returned to areas retaken by Kiev's army.

"In terms of the ongoing fighting, in Donetsk, Luhansk and in the south of Donetsk oblast (district), we very concerned about risk of further exodus," Cochetel said.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said he was "very concerned about the risk of further displacement of major proportion in that part of the country."

"If this crisis is not quickly stopped, it will have not only devastating humanitarian consequences, but it also has the potential to destabilize the whole region," he said.

4,106 Ukrainians have applied for asylum in the European Union. Poland, Germany and Sweden are receiving the most, but many are seeking asylum in other former Soviet Republics like Belarus.

"We have reached 20,000 for residence permits in Belarus, the authorities don't want to call them refugees, they have asked us not to call them refugees because we don't know what will happen to those people in the future," said Guterres.

"But that's the visible tip of the iceberg. We believe there are more people in Moldova."

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