More Than 660,000 People Have Fled Ukraine Amid Russia's Invasion
By Jason Hall
March 1, 2022
More than 660,000 people have fled to neighboring countries from Ukraine during the past six days, the United Nations human rights agency spokesperson Shabia Mantoo confirmed at a press briefing on Tuesday (March 1) via NBC News.
Mantoo addressed reporters at the Palais des Nations in Geneva and said the Ukraine conflict has led to Europe's largest refugee crisis of the century, adding that the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees was mobilizing resources to respond as quickly as possible.
Ukrainian residents have most commonly fled to Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia, amid other European nations, during the ongoing invasion by neighboring Russia, while a sizable number have even moved into the Russian Federation amid the attacks, according to Mantoo.
On Monday (February 28), Russian and Ukrainian officials reportedly met amid the ongoing conflict between the two neighboring countries following Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to conduct military operations in and ensuing attack on Eastern Ukraine.
NBC News reports Ukraine said it planned to push for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops when the two sides met at the Belarussian border.
The talks took place as Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, was under attack from Russian shelling and Kyiv, the country's largest and capital city, continued to show strong resistance to attacks from Russia.
On Saturday, a senior U.S. Defense Department official told reporters that Ukraine's resistance is stiffer than expected and Russians are increasingly frustrated by their lack of progress, specifically in the the capital city of Kyiv and Kharkiv.
At least 25 civilians and 137 soldiers were reportedly killed, while hundreds more were injured in Ukraine on the first day of Russia's invasion.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights confirmed that the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine received reports of at least 25 civilians killed and more than 100 injured in connection to "shelling and air strikes" in a statement obtained by NBC News Friday (February 25) morning.
"This is more than the total number of civilian casualties recorded by the U.N. Human Rights Office on both sides of the contact line for the whole of 2021," the statement read, noting that 25 people were killed and 85 injured in 2021.
The UN human rights office confirmed 114 of the 127 civilian casualties took place in Government-controlled areas such as the Donetsk, Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kherson and Luhansk regions.
"Because of the security situation, civilian casualties in Government-controlled territory are likely to be under-reported, and real figures, therefore, could be higher," the office said via NBC News.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky announced at least 137 soldiers were killed and 316 were injured on Thursday, according to preliminary figures, CNN reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his country would conduct military operations in Eastern Ukraine during an NBC News translation of a speech addressing the Russian population prior to sunrise early Thursday morning in Moscow.
The announcement appeared to serve as the final action ahead of an attack by Putin and the Russian military, which the U.S. and European allies to the neighboring Ukraine have attempted to prevent from taking place through diplomatic discussions.
A Ukraine interior minister confirmed to NBC News via text message that "cruise and ballistic missile strikes" were already underway shortly after Putin's announcement.
NBC News correspondent Erin McLaughlin said explosions could be heard from her live shot in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital city, at 6:00 a.m. local time.
More than 1,000 protesters were reportedly arrested during anti-war protests throughout Russia amid President Putin's announcement to conduct military operations and ensuing attack on Ukraine, BNO News reported.