NEW YORK/GENEVA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A total of up to 230,000 people have been displaced by fighting in the Ukraine, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.
UNHCR spokesman Dan McNorton told reporters in Geneva that the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) was about to reach the 100,000 mark.
“As of the 18th of July, we were at a figure of 95,473 internally displaced people in Ukraine,” he said.
Most of the IDPs were people moving from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions and those figures have risen in recent weeks, McNorton added.
In additions to those displaced within the country, some 130,000 people have crossed the border into Russia, he said.
The Ukrainian Red Cross issued an appeal on Thursday to push for more help for those who were affected by fighting in the areas of Luhansk, Donetsk and Crimea.
Earlier this week, rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Ukrainian authorities should “urgently intensify” relief efforts for displaced people, and provide them with housing and social services and ensure that the refugee registration process functions properly.
Ukraine descended into a bloody conflict after mass protests in March overthrew Russian-backed former president Viktor Yanukovich, who opposed stronger political and economic cooperation with the European Union in favor of closer ties to Russia. This led to upheaval in the country’s ethnic Russian east, which prompted aggressive intervention from Russia and, eventually, to its annexation of Crimea.
Intense fighting continues in the country’s eastern regions between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces.
(Additional reporting and writing by Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters, in Geneva. Editing by Lisa Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org)