Nearly 370,000 have fled Ukraine for neighbouring countries: UN

16th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

Fighting in Ukraine has driven nearly 370,000 people to flee to neighbouring countries, most of them to Russia, the UN said Tuesday.

"Some 366,866 people have fled to neighbouring countries, the vast majority to Russia," Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN's humanitarian agency, told reporters in Geneva.

Nearly 326,000 of them have fled to Russia, the agency said, adding that another 263,000 people had been displaced inside Ukraine.

The new estimate that around 630,000 people have fled their homes in total was meanwhile likely a gross underestimate, Laerke acknowledged.

"These are very conservative estimates," Laerke said, stressing that the real number "is likely to be much higher."

He pointed out that some 5.1 million people live in areas directly affected by the conflict, which has cost nearly 2,900 lives.

On September 2, the UN's refugee agency put the number of people who had sought asylum in Russia at around 260,000, while it said another 260,000 had been displaced inside Ukraine.

A shaky truce signed on September 5 seemed to be holding, Laerke said, lamenting though that "isolated ceasefire violations have been reported daily."

Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists have accused the other of violating the ceasefire, the first backed by both Kiev and Moscow since fighting erupted in April.

Sunday marked the bloodiest day since the ceasefire was signed, with six civilians killed in shelling near a market.

© 2014 AFP

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