ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Over 2 million Ukrainians internally displaced

A resident carries a suitcase with his belongings after his building was heavily damaged by bombing in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 18, 2022 (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
A resident carries a suitcase with his belongings after his building was heavily damaged by bombing in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 18, 2022 (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

The UN refugee agency says it’s noticing a slowdown in the number of people fleeing the fighting in Ukraine, though its estimate of internally displaced people has soared in the wake of evacuations from embattled cities like Mariupol and Sumy.

Speaking by video conference from Poland, UNHCR spokesman Matthew Saltmarsh says the number of refugee arrivals, “particularly here in Poland, has been falling in recent days.”

Some of those fleeing the violence may have been “recuperating” in the western city of Lviv and “waiting to see whether they should cross the border or not.”

Saltmarsh says UNHCR’s latest estimate of people internally displaced in Ukraine is now above 2 million. He said it was not possible to estimate how many of those might travel abroad. UNHCR has previously projected that 4 million people, or more, could flee Ukraine.

In Poland, which has taken about two-thirds of the some 3.2 million refugees from Ukraine, those arriving in recent days appear “more traumatized” and “in shock,” Saltmarsh says, and often come without a plan for where to go.

More than 93,000 people fled Ukraine on Thursday, according to UNCHR, the lowest single-day figure since fighting began on February 24. That was down from peaks of more than 200,000 daily on two consecutive days in early March.

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