Russia Ukraine conflict

Ukraine says over 870,000 who fled war have returned

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Ukraine’s border force said Tuesday that more than 870,000 people who fled abroad since the start of the war have returned to the country, including a growing number of women and children.

Spokesman Andriy Demchenko said that currently 25,000 to 30,000 Ukrainians are returning each day.

He said more women, children and elderly were among those coming back than in the early days of the conflict when those arriving had been almost exclusively men returning to fight the Russian invasion.

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“They say they see that the situation is safer, especially in the western regions and they can no longer stay abroad,” Demchenko told journalists.

“They are ready to return to the country and stay here.”

The shift comes after Russia’s battered forces retreated late last month from near the capital Kyiv in preparation for ramping up their offensive in the east of the country.

Ukraine’s interior ministry said on April 3 that 537,000 people had returned to the country.

The UN says that overall more than 4.6 million Ukrainians have fled abroad since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the attack on February 24, in Europe’s fastest growing refugees crisis since World War II.

The vast majority of those who left crossed into neighboring EU states Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and non-EU member Moldova.

Refugee agency UNHCR said Tuesday that 4,615,830 Ukrainians had fled since Russia invaded on February 24, a figure up 68,095 from Monday.

“Even though the numbers of people crossing the borders has declined significantly, those who have been crossing we’ve noticed have been in a more vulnerable state, have had lesser means and have also had less of a plan as to where they might go,” UNHCR spokesman Matt Saltmarsh said in Geneva.

Women and children account for 90 percent of those who have left Ukraine, with men aged 18 to 60 eligible for military call-up and unable to leave.

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