WARSAW, Poland ( Associated Press) — The UN refugee agency said Saturday that nearly 120,000 people have so far fled Ukraine into neighboring countries in the wake of Russian invasion.
The number was going up fast as Ukrainians grabbed their belongings and hastened to escape from a deadly Russian onslaught on their nation, including an attempt to take the capital.
“Almost 116,000 have crossed international borders as of right now. This may go up, it’s changing every minute,” said Shabia Mantoo, the spokeswoman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “It’s very fluid and changing by the hour.”
The agency expects up to 4 million Ukrainians could flee if the situation deteriorates further.
Mantoo said most were heading to neighboring Poland, Moldova, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, and even some into Belarus — from which some Russian forces entered Ukraine.
She did not immediately have details on numbers by country, but by far the largest numbers were arriving in Poland, where some 2 million Ukrainians have already settled to work in recent years, driven away by Russia’s first incursions into Ukraine in 2014 and seeking opportunities in the booming economy of the European Union neighbor.
Poland’s government said Saturday morning that more than 100,000 Ukrainians had crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border in the past 48 hours.
At the Medyka border crossing, a line of vehicles waiting to enter Poland stretched 15 kilometers (9 miles) into Ukraine, according to people crossing the border, Polish broadcaster TVN24 reported.
Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed.
Follow Associated Press’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine