Russia's war on Ukraine risks displacing 'over 7 million people': EU

A girl cries as she sits on a camp bed at a temporary shelter for Ukrainian refugees at the border crossing in Ubla, eastern Slovakia, on Feb 27, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

BRUSSELS (AFP) - Russia's war on Ukraine risks displacing "over seven million people", the EU commissioner for crisis management said Sunday (Feb 27).

"We are witnessing what could become the largest humanitarian crisis on our European continent in many, many years," Janez Lenarcic told a media conference after a meeting of EU interior ministers focused on the flow of refugees from Ukraine.

"Currently, the expected number of displaced Ukrainians is over seven million people," he said, but cautioned he was giving only "rough estimates" from the UN because fighting prevented accurate counting.

A European Commission official later clarified that Lenarcic was giving "estimations in case the aggression continues", based on UN information.

Lenarcic said that, according to the UN, if the war continued, "there will be around 18 million Ukrainians that will be affected in humanitarian terms, be it in Ukraine proper, or in the neighbouring countries".

Lenarcic said that "the figures are big and we will have to prepare for this kind of emergency, which is of historical proportions".

According to the latest situation report from the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), issued late on Saturday, "more than 160,000 people have reportedly been internally displaced".

"Over 116,000 have been forced to flee across international borders into neighbouring European countries" based on UNHCR estimates, OCHA added.

The document said the Ukrainian government estimated that there could be "as many as five million refugees in worst-case scenario".

Get live updates as the Ukraine crisis unfolds.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.