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UN estimates 10 million Ukrainians are now displaced
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other refugee agencies, are now estimating 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced by Russia’s illegal invasion and constant bombardment of cities and civilians. According to a joint statement:
“Between 9 March and 16 March, IOM conducted a representative survey of the general population in Ukraine to gather initial insights into internal displacement and mobility flows, while the Displacement Tracking Matrix is being set up and yet to be completed given the complexities of the current operational context. The results of the survey were presented to the Protection Cluster, UNHCR, REACH and OCHA, and after a collective review of the methodology and findings, the group agreed that the figures provided by IOM are a good representation of the scale of internal displacement in Ukraine – calculated to stand at 6.48 million internally displaced persons in Ukraine as of March 16th.”
The number of internally displaced persons may not include full or accurate calculations of those who have had to take shelter in communal bomb shelters in their own cities or neighborhoods. The total number of displaced people is expected to continue rising as the conflict spreads and conditions of deprivation deepen.
UNHCR tracking data find 3,389,044 refugees have crossed borders from Ukraine into neighboring countries, since the conflict began. The 10 million displaced people means more than 3.3 million are being displaced per week. This rate is considered to be higher than what was seen during the many atrocities of the years-long Second World War.
The Norwegian Refugee Council says every second adds one new refugee to the mass exodus from Ukraine. NRC estimates 7 million or more will eventually cross Ukraine’s borders, and more than a quarter of the population (at least 12 million out of 44 million) will be “in great need of help”.
The scale and speed of the flow of refugees signals the gruesome conditions Russian military bombardments are subjecting civilians to. Putin’s forces have directly targeted multiple non-military buildings where hundreds of children were sheltering, including a theatre in Mariupol and a school.
Reports from Mariupol suggest it is nearly impossible to count all of those lost, as bodies are being left in the street due to targeted killing of civilians and rescuers. The incessant terroristic bombardment of civilians and civilian targets, including bomb shelters, hospitals, schools, and evacuation routes, is nothing less than an attempt to annihilate the very foundations of international and humanitarian law.
No government can engage in such acts without permanently forfeiting its legitimacy. In Ukraine, Putin’s regime has opted to demonstrate its total disdain for Article II of the UN Charter, which holds that:
(1) The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
(2) All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.
(3) All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
(4) All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
The 10 million displaced Ukrainians have been displaced by atrocities committed in direct violation of international law.
War crimes investigations are already underway, and there is a campaign for a dedicated tribunal to prosecute the crime of aggression.
Investigations are also ongoing into crimes against humanity and potential acts of genocide.
The International Court of Justice has ordered Russia to cease all military activity in Ukraine and withdraw unconditionally.
Poland’s Ambassador to the United Nations told the Security Council last week that 170 nationalities had been documented among the refugees, adding that all nations “are victims of this aggression.”
The welcome and care individual Europeans and European nations are showing to those fleeing Ukraine provide a living counterweight to the evil of Putin’s war. That recognition of our common humanity, and mobilization of major resources to support and defend that humanity, must be our common cause.