Within days, the number of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war grew exponentially in Eastern European countries. At a press conference, a spokesperson for the German Interior Ministry said nearly 150,000 people have registered as refugees, but the number in Germany could be much higher. At the beginning of March, 50,000 Ukrainians arrived in Germany after the start of the Russian terror. Non-Ukrainians with permanent residence in Ukraine do not need to go through an asylum procedure. “But of course people who are now fleeing the war zone can enter the EU, whether they are Ukrainian asylum seekers or third-country nationals,” the spokesperson said.
Since the Russian invasion on February 24, the total number of refugees fleeing Ukraine to European Union nationals has risen to more than 2.8 million, according to the United Nations on Monday. The impressive number certifies that the event is the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War. Neighboring states such as Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and Moldova took in the vast majority of refugees while other refugees continued west to shelter from escalating violence. Further away from Ukraine, the Czech Republic has taken in tens of thousands of refugees and Lithuania has started taking in around a thousand refugees every day. Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu announced that Germany would welcome 2,500 Ukrainians currently in Moldova.
“Europe and our country stand in solidarity with you. We will take refugees from you,” said Annalena Baerbock, German Federal Foreign Minister. The unified effort of European countries helping refugees has put pressure on local authorities and resources, but volunteers and international aid from Western Europe and the United States aim to ease the pressure.
Polish border guards said around 1.76 million people have entered the country since the fighting began, with another 18,400 entering on Monday morning. On Sunday, Russia attacked a Ukrainian base near NATO member Poland, killing 35 people and up to 180 “foreign mercenaries”. A large number of foreign weapons were reportedly destroyed during the attack. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, accompanied by his Ukrainian and Lithuanian counterparts, said the attack showed Russia wanted to “sow panic among the civilian population”.
A refugee traveling with her mother in Warsaw said the attack was unexpected. “I just freaked out and got scared,” she said. Hundreds of volunteers, leaders and aid workers continue to work tirelessly to support the influx of refugees. An international team of chefs in Przemsyl served thousands of meals a day to refugees entering Poland through the country’s busiest border crossing, Medyka. In Germany, nearly 2,000 meals have been served to refugees at a youth education center near Auschwitz, which is normally a space dedicated to honoring victims of the Holocaust and World War II.
“We make a lot of soups because it’s very cold and the refugees coming in, they can’t carry like a big plate of food because they carry all their stuff,” said Clara, a volunteer cook for the humanitarian NGO World Central. Kitchen. Lithuanian Red Cross director Kristina Meide said “most of them are women with small children, some with only a handbag as luggage.”
Abandoned convention centers and shopping malls have become home to hundreds of temporary beds and makeshift canteens across Eastern Europe. Volunteers spend hours handing out hot drinks and SIM cards to refugees.
Russia denies targeting civilians, but video and military surveillance prove otherwise. “Civilians are being killed and maimed in what appear to be indiscriminate attacks, with Russian forces using wide-area explosive weapons in or near populated areas,” the UN Human Rights Office spokeswoman said. of the man, Liz Throssell. “These include missiles, heavy artillery shells and rockets, as well as airstrikes.”
Schools, hospitals and nurseries have been hit by shelling, according to Throssell. As of March 9, the United Nations has recorded 549 civilian deaths and 957 injuries, but the figure is likely considerably higher. “On March 3, 47 civilians were killed when Russian airstrikes hit two schools and several buildings in Chernihiv,” Throssell said. “On March 9, a Russian airstrike hit Mariupol Hospital No. 3, injuring at least 17 civilians. We have spoken to various sources in Mariupol, including local authorities, consistently stating that the hospital was both clearly identifiable and operational when it was hit.
To date, the World Health Organization has confirmed 29 attacks on health facilities. Under international law, directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects is prohibited and can constitute war crimes if brought before an international tribunal after the war is resolved. While distributing food and medicine, the mayor of Hostomel in Ukraine was shot dead by Russian forces, according to the local governments Facebook page.
However, Russia maintains that its actions are a “special operation” to “denazify” Ukraine, while other countries are aware of Russia’s frustrations over Ukraine’s status in NATO. Ukraine has applied for NATO membership since 2008, but joined under the Enhanced Partner Interoperability Program, which does not imply official membership or impact on candidacy decisions from Ukraine. Russia has threatened international war if NATO officially enters the conflict, including through a no-fly zone.
Ceasefire truces long enough to evacuate civilians have often failed, but Ukraine and Russia report progress in ‘tough’ ceasefire talks, immediate troop withdrawal and security guarantees after the first rounds of talks. Last week, negotiators ended the third round of talks with little progress, according to The Wall Street Journal. Ukraine has started evacuating civilians through 10 humanitarian corridors, but millions of Ukrainians continue to be attacked. Russian forces continue to carry out missile and rocket strikes on civilian and military targets, disrupting evacuation between corridors, according to Ukrainian officials. The Ukrainian army has held firm on several fronts thanks to counterattacks and sabotage operations supported by a myriad of countries.
“It hasn’t been easy and it’s too early to talk about anything positive,” Russia’s chief negotiator and Kremlin aide Vladimir Medinsky said, according to Russian news agency Interfax. Whether Russia’s goal is to take complete control of Ukraine or to pressure allied Western forces, millions of lives are at risk. There is no simple solution, despite the billions of dollars in embargoes that several countries have imposed on Russia. Thanks to the direct and indirect support of Ukraine and the clear condemnation of Russian aggression, the international community has united, but there does not seem to be an end in sight to the conflict.