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Russia struggles with half a million refugees of Ukraine conflict

Published on Jul 23, 2014 9:45 AM
A woman with a child walk at a temporary facility for refugees form Eastern Ukraine, 20 km outside from the Crimean capital Simferopol, on July 17, 2014. Kiev and the West blame Moscow for fuelling the fighting but those leaving the rebels' self-proclaimed republics say that joining the thousands of others who have already headed across the border into Russia is their only hope. -- PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia is struggling with a flood of refugees who already number half a million from the fighting in eastern Ukraine, and many appear increasingly likely to stay, officials and activists said.

Widely viewed by the West as having fomented the conflict by providing support to pro-Russian separatists - a charge Moscow denies - Russia now faces the growing challenge of caring for the refugees.

"Since April 1, over 515,000 people have arrived from southeastern Ukraine," the head of Russia's migration service (FMS) Konstantin Romodanovsky said this week.

The influx has become a burden for southern Russian regions that border Ukraine, in particular Rostov, and Moscow is now trying to address the situation of caring for them at the federal level.

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