UN: Ukraine war has let to over 8 million internally displaced persons

More than 8 MILLION people have fled their homes but remain within Ukraine due to the Russian invasion, the UN reveals

  • This figure is up from the estimated 7.7 million figure from the IOM in April 17
  • This is in addition to the more than 5.9 million Ukrainians who have left Ukraine 
  • Sixty-three percent of internally displaced persons are estimated to be women
  • Almost half of the IDPs – more than 3.9 million people – have fled their homes in the eastern region of Ukraine, where Russia is now concentrating its assault
  • Yesterday, US official said 1.2 million had been forcible taken into Russia 

More than eight million people have been displaced within Ukraine by Russia’s war, having fled their homes but stayed inside the country, the UN said on Tuesday.

This is in addition to the more than 5.9 million Ukrainians who have left Ukraine entirely since Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded on February 24.

The figure for the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) as of May 3, issued by the UN’s International Organization for Migration, is up from the estimate of 7.7 million the IOM gave as of April 17.

‘The needs of those internally displaced and all affected by the war in Ukraine are growing by the hour,’ said IOM director general Antonio Vitorino.

‘Access to populations in need of aid remains a challenge amid active hostilities, but our teams are committed to continue delivering urgent assistance inside Ukraine and in neighbouring countries.’

The IOM conducted its latest survey between April 29 and May 3.

Sixty-three percent of current IDPs are estimated to be women. Ukraine imposed martial law at the beginning of the war, meaning that men of fighting age (18 to 60) had to stay in the country and fight.

Almost half of the IDPs – more than 3.9 million people – have fled their homes in the eastern region of Ukraine, where Russia is now concentrating its assault.

A further 1.65 million from the Kyiv region have fled their homes, and 1.3 million from the north have been displaced.

Meanwhile, it was reported by a U.S. defence official yesterday that around 1.2 million Ukrainians have been forcibly taken to Russia by Putin’s forces. 

The United Nations said today that more than eight million are estimated to have been displaced within Ukraine by Russia’s war, having fled their homes but stayed inside the country. Pictured: Smoke rises in Mariupol amid the on-going Russian invasion of Ukraine

Pictured: A shelled building is shown in Mariupol on May 10. More than 5.9 million Ukrainians have left Ukraine entirely since Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded on February 24

Russian Emergency personnel clear debris in the partially destroyed Mariupol drama theatre in the city of Mariupol on May 10, 2022. Hundreds are thought to have been killed in a Russian attack on the theatre which was being used to shelter civilians in March

The survey found that 36 percent of IDPs – 2.9 million people – are now in the relatively safer west of Ukraine.

But while a large number of those who fled their homes in east Ukraine are now in the west of the country, a significant number have remained in the eastern region.

Three-quarters of IDPs said they felt somewhat or completely safe in their current location.

The IOM study found that financial support was the overwhelming need among IDPs – chiefly to cover food and medical costs – with shelter another pressing need.

‘Nine percent of all people surveyed in the latest report, including those not internally displaced, indicated that their homes were damaged or destroyed,’ the IOM said.

‘Among the internally displaced alone, this figure rose to 27 percent. Every one out of 10 people surveyed said that they would need materials to fix damaged homes.’

The survey found that more than 1.2 million people were actively considering leaving their homes due to the war.

Pictured: Destroyed buildings in Mariupol stretch into the distance in this view of the city

Almost half of the IDPs – more than 3.9 million people – have fled their homes in the eastern region of Ukraine, where Russia is now concentrating its assault

It also estimated that 2.72 million people had returned to their homes following at least two weeks of displacement, including former IDPs and people who left the country.

However, ‘return dynamics remain unsteady and a share of returns reported may not be permanent’, the IOM cautioned.

The survey shed light on the numbers of people currently separated from close family due to the war – 41 percent, while among IDPs the figure was 64 percent.

The survey found that 22 percent of displaced households had children aged one to four, 55 percent included elderly members and 31 percent had people with chronic illnesses.

The rapid representative assessment was conducted through interviews with 2,000 anonymous respondents aged over 18 who were contacted at random by telephone.

The survey is used by the IOM to gather insights into internal displacement and mobility and to assess the humanitarian needs in Ukraine.

The UN’s figures came after a U.S. defence official said that more than 1 million Ukrainians have been taken against their will into Russia.

The senior official said Tuesday that the Pentagon has seen indications that Ukrainians caught up in Russia’s invasion are being forcibly removed from their homeland and sent across the border by Putin’s forces.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that camps were involved in the process. 

‘I can’t speak to how many camps or what they look like,’ Kirby told reporters. ‘But we do have indications that Ukrainians are being taken against their will into Russia.’

‘But we do have indications that Ukrainians are being taken against their will into Russia,’ Kirby said. He called these actions ‘unconscionable’ and ‘not the behavior of a responsible power.’ 

Ukrainian refugees from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol are seen in a bus as they arrive at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people, amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said back in early April, six weeks after Russia launched its deadly invasion, that thousands of Ukrainians had been sent to Russian territory.

But that figure has since ballooned to more than 1.19 million, including at least 200,000 children, Ukraine’s ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova said.

Kirby stopped short of describing the deportations as ethnic cleansing, stressing it was not the Pentagon’s place to make such determinations. But he said there was abundant evidence of ‘Russian brutality’ during the war.

Moscow has had ’75 days of brutalizing the nation of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people,’ he said. ‘And every time you think they just can’t fall to a new low, they prove you wrong.’

Civilians who have escaped the besieged city of Mariupol have described passing through Russian ‘filtration’ sites.

There, several evacuees told AFP news agency they had been questioned, strip-searched, fingerprinted, and had their phones and documents checked. 

Passengers, including evacuees from the cities of Sumy and Kyiv, walk along the platform of a railway station upon their arrival in Lviv, Ukraine February 25 – the day after the war began

The survey found that 36 percent of IDPs – 2.9 million people – are now in the relatively safer west of Ukraine. Pictured: An elderly man arrives in Khmelnytskyi, Western Ukraine

Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday that Russian forces continued to pummel the vital port of Odesa, in an apparent effort to disrupt supply lines and Western weapons shipments critical to Kyiv’s defense.

Ukraine’s ability to stymie a larger, better-armed Russian military has surprised many who had anticipated a much quicker end to the conflict. 

With the war now in its 11th week and Kyiv bogging down Russian forces and even staging a counteroffensive, Ukraine’s foreign minister appeared to suggest the country could expand its aims beyond merely pushing Russia back to areas it or its allies held on the day of the Feb. 24 invasion.

One of the most dramatic examples of Ukraine’s ability to prevent easy victories is in Mariupol, where Ukrainian fighters remained holed up at a steel plant, denying Russia’s full control of the city. The regiment defending the plant said Russian warplanes continued bombarding it.

In recent days, the United Nations and Red Cross organized a rescue of what some officials said were the last civilians trapped at the plant.

But two officials said Tuesday that about 100 were believed to still be in the complex’s underground tunnels. Others said that was impossible to confirm.

In another example of the grisly toll of the war, Ukrainian officials said they found the bodies of 44 civilians in the rubble of a building destroyed weeks ago in the northeastern city of Izyum.

In Washington, a top U.S. intelligence official testified Tuesday that eight to 10 Russian generals have been killed in the war. Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, who leads the Defense Intelligence Agency, told a Senate committee that because Russia lacks a noncommissioned officer corps, its generals have to go into combat zones and end up in dangerous positions.

Pictured: A shopping mall is destroyed as a result of rocket strikes launched by Russian troops, Odesa, southern Ukraine, May 10

Two police officers are pictured on the premises of a shopping mall destroyed as a result of rocket strikes launched by Russian troops, Odesa, southern Ukraine. As reported, one person was killed and five more were injured as Russians fired seven missiles on Odesa, May 9

Ukraine said Russian forces fired seven missiles Monday at Odesa, hitting a shopping center and a warehouse in the country’s largest port. One person was killed and five wounded, the military said.

Images showed a burning building and debris – including a tennis shoe – in a heap of destruction in the city on the Black Sea. Mayor Gennady Trukhanov later visited the warehouse and said it ‘had nothing in common with military infrastructure or military objects.’

Ukraine alleged at least some of the munitions used dated to the Soviet era, making them unreliable in targeting. Ukrainian, British and U.S. officials say Russia is rapidly using up its stock of precision weapons, raising the risk of more imprecise rockets being used as the conflict grinds on.

Since President Vladimir Putin’s forces failed to take Kyiv early in the war, his focus has shifted to the eastern industrial heartland of the Donbas – but one general has suggested Moscow’s aims also include cutting cutting Ukraine’s maritime access to both the Black and Azov seas.

That would also give it a swath of territory linking Russia to both the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized in 2014, and Transnistria, a pro-Moscow region of Moldova.

Even if it falls short of severing Ukraine from the coast – and it appears to lack the forces to do so – continuing missile strikes on Odesa reflect the city’s strategic importance. The Russian military has repeatedly targeted its airport and claimed it destroyed several batches of Western weapons.   

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