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U.N. refugee agency says fewer Ukrainians fleeing

Randy Mancini 3 Mar 18
People fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine arrive at Suceava train station
FILE PHOTO: Refugees walk across train tracks to board a train to Bucharest at Suceava train station after fleeing Ukraine to the Siret border crossing in Romania, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Suceava, Romania, March 17, 2022. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

March 18, 2022

GENEVA (Reuters) -The number of people crossing borders to flee the war in Ukraine has slowed in recent days but could rise again if the fighting spreads further west, a U.N. refugee agency official said on Friday.

“We have seen a slowdown, a general slowdown,” said Matthew Saltmarsh via videolink from Poland.

The warmer weather might be a factor, he added

Daily crossings into Poland, the country that has received most arrivals, have fallen by around half from a peak of about 100,000 daily, he said.

Overall, U.N. agencies say 3.27 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24 and an additional 2 million people have been displaced internally.

Many of those have fled besieged cities in the country’s east to the western city of Lviv, which has so far been mostly spared from violence.

“If indeed there is an escalation in Lviv, there is a danger there will be renewed movements towards the border,” Saltmarsh said.

However, he said more of the refugees crossing the Polish border in recent days were showing signs of having suffered trauma than earlier in the crisis.

“Many of them don’t have a plan,” he added. “Those who arrive are not clear where they can go.”

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Angus MacSwan)