The number of Ukrainians fleeing the country to neighboring nations following the 2014 eruption of an armed conflict in Ukraine’s eastern regions is approaching the one million mark, a UN report states.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated in a Friday report that the number of Ukrainian refugees in neighboring countries has surpassed 900,000 citing data from governmental sources in the host countries. It added that most of those making the flight have found shelter in Russia.
The report said the overall number of refugees seeking shelter or looking for other legal forms of residence in neighboring nations has reached 900,300, with nearly 746,000 of them being hosted by Russia.
Additionally, it added, a total of 1.35 million Ukrainians have been compelled to abandon their residences and were listed as internally displaced persons (IDPs). The report further noted that 807,000 of the IDPs are retired people while another 171,000 are children and 57,500 others categorized as disabled.
According to the report, the second country of destination for Ukrainian refugees is Belarus, which is hosting 81,200 of those fleeing the persisting conflict in eastern Ukraine.
A fewer number of the refugees have also gone to other European countries, the report adds, estimating that nearly 4,600 of them have gone to Germany, 3,600 to Poland and another 2,900 to Italy.
The UNHCR further underlined a sharp deterioration of the Ukrainian conflict after large-scale battles resumed in June, saying the armed clashes brought about considerable worsening of the humanitarian situation and heavily limited the freedom of movement due to tighter security measures in the area.
The Ukrainian conflict broke out in March 2014 following a referendum in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, in which people voted overwhelmingly for reunification with Russia.
The situation, however, degenerated into a major armed conflict after Kiev dispatched troops to the eastern Ukrainian regions of Lugansk and Donetsk in April 2014 in an attempt to suppress pro-Russia forces there.
The persisting conflict has so far claimed the lives of at least 6,500 people and displaced nearly 1.5 million citizens, according the United Nations figures.