Thursday, March 23, 2023

Will the exodus of Ukrainians exceed the refugee flows of World War II?

In a recent news release, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) counted more than 100 million people worldwide who were displaced and forced to flee conflict, violence, human rights violations and persecution.

The staggering number of refugees has been driven by wars in Ukraine and Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. In Ukraine, there has been a massive exodus of people since Russia invaded the country in February.

Children And Two Adults Stand In A Semicircle Holding Hands.  One Girl Is Wearing A Minnie Mouse Headscarf.
Syrian children hold hands while waiting for a delivery of food and toys in an orphanage camp for displaced people run by the Turkish Red Crescent in November 2021.
( Associated Press Photo / Francisco Seco)

More than 6.6 million Ukrainians have fled, with the number still growing. Men between the ages of 18 and 64 are required to stay in the country to help with his defense, so most of the refugees are women and children.

The situation represents Europe’s largest and fastest exodus of people since World War II, when an estimated 11 million people were expelled from their homelands by 1945.

The post-war European history is also littered with refugee movements generated by conflict between the Soviet Union and the West.

Cold War Refugee Stream

Although it is more difficult to identify the total number of refugees produced in these conflicts due to the range of motion, the difficulty in defining and counting refugees and shifting terminology (e.g. the use of the term “refugees” instead of “displaced persons”). , we know the Cold War generated millions of refugees from Communist Europe in the years immediately following World War II.

It included an estimated 3.5 million who fled East Germany before the Berlin Wall was built.

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 produced an estimated 200,000 refugees.

The 1968 Prague Spring – an attempt by the people of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia) to institute political liberalization through mass protests – was crushed by the Soviet Union, which produced about 80,000 refugees.

An Elderly Woman In A Blue Shirt Sits Next To Two Elderly Men.
Surviving members of a group known as the Magnificent Eight are waiting to receive an award in Prague, Czech Republic, for their 1968 protest in Russia against the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.
( Associated Press Photo / Petr David Josek)

From 1991 to 2001, an estimated 2.4 million refugees were the result of a series of interrelated wars involving the former Yugoslavia, which invaded the independent countries of Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Kosovo and Bosnia.

The majority of Ukrainian refugees fled to Poland, but Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, and Moldova also received refugees. Some Ukrainians were also able to relocate to third country destinations, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Read more: Canada must welcome Afghan refugees just as much as Ukrainians

Ukrainians displaced or trapped

But the UNHCR estimates that more than seven million Ukrainians have been displaced within the country, especially those who fled the intense fighting in eastern Ukraine for the western city of Lviv, and those who fled Kiev while the country’s capital was under siege. wash.

If both refugees and internally displaced individuals are counted, more than a quarter of Ukraine’s population is now displaced.

A Woman With Gray Hair Stares Sadly Out Of A Bus Window.
An internally displaced elderly woman from Mariupol looks out of a bus window as she arrives at a refugee center after fleeing Russian attacks in April 2022.
( Associated Press Photo / Leo Correa)

Still others are trapped and unable to leave their devastated homes and communities, which essentially means they have been displaced without being able to leave.

Although there have been recent reports of people returning to parts of Ukraine as Russian forces have withdrawn, the war shows no signs of stopping, making it more than likely that both refugee flows and internal displacement will continue to grow.

It took less than 11 weeks for the Russia-Ukraine conflict to become the largest trigger for human displacement in Europe since the entire six years of World War II.

Given that Ukraine’s population is 44 million, it is quite possible that the ongoing conflict could lead to refugee flows surpassing those of World War II.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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