MOSCOW, July 14 (RIA Novosti) - A UN representative thanked Russian authorities and Russians on Monday for the hospitality they have offered to Ukrainians fleeing the armed conflict in the southeast of the country.
“I would like to thank you, your government, local authorities and ordinary Russians for offering your hospitality and help to Ukrainian refugees,” the Director of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) European Bureau Vincent Cochetel said at a meeting with Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) chief Konstantin Romodanovsky.
Romodanovsky stated that while Russia can cope with the influx of refugees alone, additional aid from the international community is certainly welcome. He added that Russia would, in particular, appreciate the assistance of Red Cross and other international organizations.
Cochetel expressed willingness to cooperate with Russian authorities in issues involving Ukraine’s refugees, adding, “some of the refugees will not want to go back [to Ukraine], others will return when the situation in the country is stabilized.”
The flow of refugees from southeastern Ukraine to Russia has increased dramatically since late June due to an ongoing military operation launched by Kiev authorities to suppress independence supporters in the region.
Russia, which describes the operation as punitive, has repeatedly called for an immediate cessation of military actions, which have already claimed hundreds of lives and caused thousands to flee from their homes.
According to Russian Migration Service estimates, approximately 490,000 refugees are staying in Russia, with 90 percent of them staying with friends and relatives, and only 10 percent being accommodated in temporary accommodation centers (TACs) in Russian regions neighboring Ukraine.