Live Updates | UN: Number of people fleeing Ukraine reaches 4.5 million

GENEVA — The UN refugee agency says the number of people who have left Ukraine since the war began has reached 4.5 million.

A regular update Sunday from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ online portal on the number of refugees fleeing Ukraine since February 24 brought the total to some 4.504 million.

About 2.6 million of them fled at least initially to Poland and more than 686,000 to Romania. However, the UNHCR notes that there are very few border controls within the European Union and it believes that “a large number of people” have left the first country in which they arrived.


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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIAN-UKRAINE WAR:

— Zelensky: Russian aggression is not limited to Ukraine alone

– Zelenskyy, in an interview with AP, says he seeks peace despite the atrocities

— Polish-Ukrainian relations seen as the target of Russian disinformation

— War Crimes Watch: A devastating walk through the horror of Bucha

– Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

LONDON — Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Russia’s armed forces were seeking to respond to mounting casualties by boosting troop numbers with personnel who had been discharged from military service since 2012.

In an intelligence update on Twitter, the ministry also said on Sunday that the Russian military’s efforts to “generate more combat power” also include recruitment attempts in Trans-Dniester, a breakaway region of Moldova. which borders Ukraine.

Russia maintains some 1,500 troops in the region, which is not internationally recognised.

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BORODIANKA, Ukraine — Firefighters continued Saturday to search for survivors or dead among the debris of destroyed buildings in a northern Ukrainian town occupied for weeks by Russian forces.

Residents of Borodianka expect to find dozens of casualties under the rubble of several buildings destroyed during fighting between Russian forces and Ukrainian troops. The city is about 75 kilometers (47 miles) northwest of the capital of kyiv and had a population of over 12,000.

Russian troops occupied Borodianka advancing towards kyiv in an attempt to encircle it. They withdrew during the last days of March after heavy fighting. The city is without electricity, natural gas or other services.

A 77-year-old resident, Maria Vaselenko, said the bodies of her daughter and son-in-law had been under rubble for 36 days because Russian soldiers did not allow residents to search for loved ones or their bodies. She said her two teenage grandchildren fled to Poland but are now orphans.

“The Russians were shooting. And some people wanted to come and help, but they were shooting at them,” she told The Associated Press. “They were putting explosives under the dead.”

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MARIUPOL, Ukraine — The bombardment by Russian forces of Ukraine’s key port, Mariupol, on the Sea of ​​Azov, has collapsed several humanitarian corridors and made conditions rarely conducive for people to leave.

It was unclear on Saturday how many people remained trapped in the city, which had a pre-war population of 430,000. Ukrainian officials put the number at around 100,000, but earlier this week British defense officials said 160,000 people remained stuck in the city.

Ukrainian troops refused to surrender the city, although much of it was razed to the ground.

Resident Sergey Petrov said on Saturday that two shells recently hit around him in quick succession, but neither exploded on landing. He was in his garage at the time and said his mother later told him, “I was born again.”

“A shell came in and broke in two parts but it didn’t explode, it looks like it didn’t land on the detonator but on the side,” he said.

He added that when another shell came and hit the garage, “I was in shock. I do not understand what is happening. I have a hole in my garage that is giving off smoke. I run away and leave everything. I come back in a few hours and find another shell on the ground, also unexploded.

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ATHENS, Greece — A Ukrainian soccer club opened a series of charity matches on Saturday as part of a government-backed “World Peace Tour” bearing the names of heavily bombed cities on its shirts.

The Shakhtar Donetsk club tour aims to raise funds for the Ukrainian army in the war against Russia, and also to help Ukrainian refugees displaced by war.

His first match on Saturday was a 1-0 loss to Greek league leaders Olympiakos.

Football clubs across Europe have offered to play matches against Ukrainian clubs and welcome young players after football in the country was shut down during the invasion of Russia in February.

Shakhtar was previously moved from their home in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, in 2014.

Playing in the Athens area on Saturday, Shakhtar players replaced their names on the back of their shirts with those of towns bombed by Russian forces, including Mariupol.

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BUCHA, Ukraine – Civilians remaining in Bucha lined up on Saturday to receive food donated by the local church in the scarred suburb of kyiv, where Ukrainian forces and journalists reported evidence of war crimes after the withdrawal Russian soldiers.

With other civilians fleeing following the Russian invasion, most of those who remained in Bucha were elderly, poor, or unable to leave their loved ones. Russian troops withdrew more than a week ago.

Volunteer Petro Denysyuk told The Associated Press that he and other church friends have started providing food, with a wide range of staple foods and hot meals.

“We got together with the young people from our church and prepared food for the needy,” Denysyuk said. “We made pilaf, boiled eggs, prepared meat, sausages, noodles.”

Ukrainian forces and journalists who visited Bucha saw bodies strewn in the streets, evidence of summary executions and the remains of people who could not have threatened soldiers. Russia has denied the war crimes charges and accused kyiv of staging them.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the British and Austrian leaders for their visits to Kyiv on Saturday and their pledges of further support.

In his daily late-night video address to the nation, Zelenskyy also thanked European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a global fundraising event that raised more than $10 billion. euros ($11 billion) for Ukrainians who had to flee. Their houses.

Zelenskyy said democratic countries were united in their work to stop the war. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer became the latest of several European leaders to meet Zelenskky in Kyiv.

“Because Russian aggression was not meant to be limited to Ukraine alone, to the destruction of our freedom and our lives,” he said. “The whole European project is a target for Russia.”

Zelenskyy reiterated his call for a full embargo on Russian oil and gas, calling them sources of Russia’s “self-confidence and impunity”.

“But Ukraine doesn’t have time to wait. Freedom has no time to wait. When tyranny begins its assault on anything that keeps the peace in Europe, action must be taken immediately,” he said.

He added: “And an oil embargo must be the first step. Moreover, by all democratic states, the entire civilized world. Then Russia will feel it. Then it will be an argument for them to seek peace, to stop senseless violence.


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