July 25, 2024

Pathfinder News

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Russia’s relentless bombardment of residential areas across Ukraine has so far forced more than one million refugees to flee the country in just seven days, according to the United Nations, as fierce fighting continues into its second week.Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement Thursday: “I have worked in refugee emergencies for almost 40 years, and rarely have I seen an exodus as rapid as this one.”By way of comparison, it took three months for one million refugees to leave Syria in 2013 when departures there were at their height, according to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

Millions more people are likely to be forced to flee Ukraine, Grandi said. He added: “International solidarity has been heartwarming. But nothing can replace the need for the guns to be silenced; for dialogue and diplomacy to succeed. Peace is the only way to halt this tragedy.”

In Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, residents were awoken in the early hours of Thursday by at least one large explosion in the southwest of the city, following a day of heavy shelling. To the south, the mayor of the strategically important city of Kherson on the Black Sea indicated that Russian forces had seized control, though claims remain disputed. And in the port city of M

ariupol, home to roughly 400,000, residents are without electricity and water, according to local officials, as Russian troops step up their offensive. A resident of Kherson,which has about 300,000 inhabitants, described the situation there as a “humanitarian catastrophe,” saying Thursday there had been chaos and panic in the city as residents tried to get basic necessities.

According to the local resident, there is a severe lack of food and medicine particularly insulin — with pharmacies being looted. The resident added that there had been a significant amount of looting by Russian troops, and said that Russian soldiers had been seen arresting men.The mayor of Kherson, Ihor Kolykhaiev, said the Ukrainian military is no longer in the city and that its inhabitants must now carry out the instructions of “armed people who came to the city’s administration” indicating that the city has now fallen under Russian control.

In Mariupol, the deputy mayor said that the southeastern Ukrainian city had faced 26 hours of continued shelling and warned it now faces a humanitarian crisis.

They are destroying our city with all weapons, from artillery, from airplane bombing, from tactical rockets, from multiple launch rocket systems,” Sergei Orlov said”New Day.” “We do not have electricity in the whole city, we do not have water supplies, we do not have sanitary systems, we do not have heating.”Further north, Ukrainian resistance in the country’s second biggest city, Kharkiv, continues to hold out, as Russian strikes hit at least three schools and damaged a cathedral and shops on Wednesday. In a broadcast message Thursday, President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed Russian forces, saying: “You are leaving people without food, you are leaving us without medication. You are shelling evacuation routes, there’s no weapon you wouldn’t use against us, against free citizens of Ukraine.”

For those who have fled the country, most have gone to Poland, to Ukraine’s west, with large numbers also entering Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia. Dramatic video filmed Wednesday showed crowds of people on a platform at Kharkiv train station queuing to get on a train to Uzhgorod, in the west, carrying their children and pets as they fled an assault on the city. Worryingly, a “big number” of those crossing into Poland are unaccompanied children, according to Poland’s Ambassador to the UN Krzysztof Szczerski. Many children crossing the border are leaving behind parents particularly their fathers, who have been called by the Ukrainian government to stay behind and fend off Russian troops, he said. Meanwhile, the Czech government has declared a 30-day state of emergency from Friday in anticipation of a major influx of people fleeing the conflict.