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 UN Warns of 'Massive Exodus' from Ukraine

UN alarmed by sharp rise of displaced people due to fighting in the country's restive east.

Censor.NET reports thisciting Al Jazeera

The UnitedNations has said that at least 117,000 people have fled their homesand are currently displaced due to the conflict in easternUkraine.

According to theUnited Nations agency for refugees (UNHCR), local Ukrainianauthorities have so far registered some 117,000 people flooding outof the east to other regions of the country.

The UN agencyestimates that about 730,000 Ukrainians have left the country forRussia this year.

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"According tothe Russian authorities, and we believe that number is credible,there are about 730,000 Ukrainians who have crossed into Russiasince the beginning of the year," Vincent Cochetel, head of theUNHCR's European Bureau, told reporters inGeneva.

UNHCR warnedthat intensified battles could lead to a "massiveexodus".

In addition,around 168,000 Ukrainians had as of August 1 applied to Russianauthorities for asylum, refugee and other kinds of protectivestatuses such as temporary residence permits, hesaid.

"We don't callall of those people refugees," he said, adding that only some ofthe 168,000 who had applied for protective status fell into thatcategory.

But according toRussian authorities, more than half a million more Ukrainians havegone to Russia since January under the country's visa-free regime,without registering, Cochetel said.

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The UNHCR said87 percent of those displaced inside Ukraine had fled the mainrebel strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk, while the remainder werefrom Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow inMarch.

The alreadystaggering numbers of displaced people were rising fast, Cochetelwarned, saying that over the past two weeks, 1,200 people had beenflooding out of Donetsk and Luhansk into other parts of Ukraineeach day.

"Those peopleare leaving with very little," he said. "Some of them arrive withalmost no belongings or got some of their belongings confiscated atcheckpoints."

With theUkrainian army closing in on Donetsk, there is fear that intensefighting could move into the city centre, which is home to at leastone million.

"Fighting inhighly densified urban areas could lead to a massive exodus andmassive destruction," Cochetel said, warning that water shortagesin Luhansk could also spark more people toleave.

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Источник: https://en.censor.net.ua/n296784