415,800 flee fighting in east Ukraine: UNHCR

20th August 2014, Comments 0 comments

At least 415,800 people have fled their homes due to fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, the UN refugee agency said on Wednesday.

According to the latest UNHCR estimates, at least 190,000 have been displaced within Ukraine, while 197,400 have fled to Russia. A further 14,600 have travelled to Poland and 13,883 to Belarus.

"We do recognise that the number of displaced could be higher as there's no centralised registration system and we know that some people are not registering," said Ariane Rummery, a spokeswoman for the UN agency.

Of the nearly 200,000 people who fled to Russia, around 78,000 have applied for refugee status, Rummery added.

The number of displaced has risen dramatically over the past month as the government in Kiev has intensified its offensive against rebel strongholds in eastern Ukraine.

Figures given by the UNHCR on August 5 estimated that 117,000 were displaced in Ukraine and 168,000 had sought refuge in Russia.

More than 2,000 people have been killed and 5,000 injured since fighting began in April.

Local authorities said Wednesday that clashes in and around the besieged main rebel stronghold of Donetsk killed 43 civilians in the past 24 hours.

The renewed offensive comes as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gears up for a meeting in Minsk with Russia's Vladimir Putin, the heads of Belarus and Kazakhstan, and EU officials next week.

© 2014 AFP

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