NEW YORK, August 5 (RIA Novosti) – The number of Ukrainian refugees has risen to 117,000, mostly people from the east of the country who have fled fighting between government and independence supporters, the UN’s refugee agency said.
“Those displaced cite security concerns, including the risk of being caught in crossfire, as the main reason for leaving their homes. Some people also expressed fears of persecution for their political views, ethnicity or forcible recruitment by government or anti-government forces,” said a spokesman from the agency, UNHCR.
“Some are reporting having experienced or heard of incidents of abduction, extortion and harassment in their neighborhoods. Other reasons people cited for being forced to flee included damage to their homes, lack of services and damage to basic infrastructure in the region,” the spokesman said.
UNHCR said the number of refugees within Ukraine has grown by 6,200 this past week to 117,000. At the start of August, an estimated 168,000 people had fled to Russia, which denies Western claims that it backs Ukraine’s pro-independence militia.
Refugees from eastern Ukraine – where the fighting is concentrated – make up 87 percent of the displaced. The number of refugees from Luhansk and Donetsk has risen from 2,600 in early June to 102,600 in early August.
“UNHCR calls for the establishment by the Ukrainian government of a central registration system of internally displaced people,” the spokesman added. “The current lack of a systematic and uniform system hampers the coordination and implementation of relief efforts,” he said.
“This is also important as the Ukrainian authorities make their preparations for winter. Most of the current shelters in use are not suitable for the cold winter months,” the spokesman added.