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UNHCR says 6 million Ukrainian refugees so far from Russian invasion

Ukrainian children and families wait to be transported to safety. (Aerial Recovery Group)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on May 12 that more than 6 million refugees have now fled Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion on February 24.

The agency said the count of those who’d left totaled 6,029,705 people as of May 11, 90 percent of them women or children.

Ukrainian authorities early in the conflict barred men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country in an effort to boost military, civil, and other defenses.

Many of the millions who’ve fled have gone to neighboring countries, with the highest number traveling to EU member Poland.

Eight million more Ukrainians have been internally displaced by the conflict.

The large-scale invasion follows eight years of lower-grade conflict since Russian forces invaded to annex Crimea and Russia-backed separatists wrested control of parts of eastern Ukraine in an area known as the Donbas.

The flow of Ukrainians abroad has slowed considerably from a high of around 3.4 million in the month of March, according to the agency.

Nearly half a million Ukrainians have left the country since the start of May, it said.

The United Nations predicted that some 8 million people would leave Ukraine this year if the conflict continued.

Its prewar population was around 44 million, including areas under Russian or separatist control.