Almost one child per second in Ukraine is becoming a refugee of the war, UNICEF said on Tuesday, as the total number of people who have now fled the country since the Russian assaults began, passed three million.
“Every day, over the past 20 days, in Ukraine more than 70,000 children have become refugees. That’s every minute, 55 children fleeing the country,” said James Elder, spokesperson for the UNICEF.
Some 1.5 million children have now joined the exodus from Ukraine, at a rate of just under one per second, since the Russian invasion began on 24 February.
“We have now reached three million mark in terms of movements of people out of Ukraine to neighboring countries. And among these people there are some 157,000 third-country nationals,” said Paul Dillon, spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration, speaking in Geneva.
Highlighting that nine in 10 of those fleeing unrelenting violence in Ukraine are women and children, Elder warned that youngsters are prey to traffickers, as they arrive in unfamiliar new surroundings.
“To give a sense of the border that I used to visit – the main border, Medyka, Poland to Ukraine – it is scores of people standing around buses and minivans calling out names of capital cities – or at least it was a week ago – people getting onto those,” he said. “The vast, vast majority, of course, are people with wonderful intentions and great generosity, but there is no doubt given what we understand of trafficking in Europe, that that remains a very, very grave issue.”