Nearly one million people have already fled Ukraine since Russia began its invasion on February 24th, according to the UN Refugee Agency, which is tracking ongoing displacement figures. Russia continues to strike residential and government buildings, killing over 2,000 civilians and leaving thousands internally displaced. RefugePoint urges all nations, including the neighboring countries of Ukraine, to act in solidarity and support Ukrainians remaining in their country and those fleeing violence.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 left over 1.5 million Ukrainians internally displaced. Additionally, 2.9 million people were estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance prior to last week’s invasion. The humanitarian needs within Ukraine are now much greater and the international community must do everything within its power to assist Ukrainians at this moment.
Neighboring countries have rightfully kept their borders open for refugees fleeing Ukraine. These borders must remain open, offering humane reception and a fair asylum process for all. RefugePoint decries the segregation occurring at Ukrainian borders and the reported inhumane treatment of African and Indian students and immigrants. Many eye-witnesses have recounted priority exit out of Ukraine for white Ukrainians, while black and Indian people have been blocked at borders. RefugePoint urges nations welcoming refugees to provide protection for all those affected, regardless of ethnicity, nationality, or religion. Everyone should have the opportunity to flee from danger.
“Today, the urgency to protect lives and help people to safety in whatever way possible is paramount. In particular, this must be done in an equitable manner without regard to race or nationality. Everything takes a back seat to the imperative to protect lives right now,” said Sasha Chanoff, RefugePoint’s Founder and CEO.
The UN estimates that 7 million Ukrainians will be internally displaced and 4 million will flee the country as refugees. The UN Refugee Agency, one of our partners active in the region, has been mobilizing to provide immediate support. Shabia Mantoo, a spokesperson for the agency, said, “At this rate, the situation looks set to become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century.”
To support Ukrainians currently in the U.S., the Biden administration should immediately grant temporary protected status (TPS) for Ukraine. 39 U.S. senators have already called on the administration to grant TPS, stating “we respectfully request that your Administration promptly take all necessary steps to ensure that Ukrainian nationals present in the United States are not forced to return to Ukraine, including the designation of Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).”
While the protection of Ukrainians and other vulnerable populations affected by this invasion is of utmost concern, we must not lose sight of the numerous protracted conflicts around the globe. As with any crisis, resources devoted to assisting those affected by Russian aggression should not detract from support and pathways to safety for those in other locations. Refugees fleeing Tigray, Syria, Afghanistan, and various other regions are still in great need of humanitarian support and pathways to safety.
RefugePoint remains devoted to advancing lasting solutions for at-risk refugees. We commend the incredible efforts to support the Ukrainian people and all those affected by the Russian invasion.