4 million refugees have now fled Ukraine, UN agency says

From the onset of the war, UNHCR had projected that about 4 million people might flee Ukraine — though it has repeatedly said that it has been reassessing its forecasts.

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GENEVA: The UN refugee agency said Wednesday more than 4 million refugees have now fled Ukraine since Russia launched its war in the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

The new figure was posted on an UNHCR website. More than 2.3 million have arrived in Poland, but many have traveled onward to other countries or back into Ukraine.

Aid workers say the numbers have eased in recent days as many people await developments in the war. An estimated 6.5 million people have also been displaced from their homes within the country.

More than 608,000 have entered Romania, over 387,000 have gone to Moldova, and about 364,000 have entered Hungary since the war began on Feb. 24, based on counts provided by governments.

From the onset of the war, UNHCR had projected that about 4 million people might flee Ukraine — though it has repeatedly said that it has been reassessing its forecasts.

“Refugees from Ukraine are now 4 million, five weeks after the start of the Russian attack,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi tweeted as he crossed the border into Ukraine.

Grandi said he would be in the western city of Lviv and discuss ways to increase its support “to people affected and displaced by this senseless war.”

UNHCR teams and their partners have been working to deliver protection, emergency shelter, cash assistance, core relief items and other critical services for those who have fled. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advisers fear telling him the truth about his “failing” Ukraine war strategy, the head of Britain’s top communications spying agency said Thursday.

Putin had “massively misjudged” the invasion, the director of Britain’s intelligence agency GCHQ Jeremy Fleming said in a prepared speech to the Australian National University in Canberra.

His remarks, released in advance, echoed US intelligence issued by the White House the previous day indicating Putin was being “misinformed” by his advisers about the progress of the Russian operation.

Western intelligence sources have been keen to play up Russia’s failures in the war and highlight divisions within Putin’s inner circle.

Fleming said Putin had underestimated the Ukraine resistance, the strength of the international coalition against him, and the impact of economic sanctions.

The Russian leader had also overestimated his own military’s ability to secure a rapid victory, he added.

“We’ve seen Russian soldiers — short of weapons and morale — refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft,” Fleming said.

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