STRASBOURG, September 30 (RIA Novosti), Daria Chernyshova – A representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told RIA Novosti Tuesday the agency referred to governments for any statistical data it used to analyze a refugee situation in a country.
“We stick to the data governments give us. We are a governmental agency, so our first most logical counterparts are governments,” UNHCR's representative to the Council of Europe Gert Westerveen told RIA Novosti Tuesday.
“So if a government tells us a number X and unless we have presence on the spot6 where we did our counting, we accept these figures,” Westerveen said following the hearing on the situation of refugees and internally displaced persons in Ukraine.
According to the information provided by Russia’s Federal Migration Service, the number of Ukrainian refugees in Russia has exceeded 800,000.
“The problem in Ukraine is that there is no central registration system. So what is taking place is that local authorities who prepare their own spread sheets decide themselves what they would gather or not, how they would keep it up to date or not, so it’s a bit of mish-mash. And that is why we insist so much that there should be a centralized system with clear data,” Westerveen told RIA Novosti Tuesday.
During the hearing held Tuesday on the sidelines of PACE fall session, Marina Leksina – member of Moscow-based Civic Assistance Committee - presented a different view on the refugee situation in Ukraine, said the number of Ukrainian refugees in Russia us significantly lower.
“There are no more than approximately 150,000 – 170,000 Ukrainian refugees in the Russian Federation, which is significantly lower than what has been officially reported by Federal Migration Service and rotated in the media, which is around 800,000 people or even a million,” Leksina said.
At the same time, Natali Sevidova – the head of Ukraine’s NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” urged the European Union to help Kiev deal with internally displaced people as well as to provide humanitarian aid, including mobile hospitals and everything necessary for the refugees to survive winter.
“We [Ukrainians] believe the position of the European Union is currently weak,” Sevidova added. “We believe the position should be more clear and transparent.”
Russia has been reporting a massive flow of Ukrainian refugees traveling to its western Rostov Region since June. A large number of Ukrainians are arriving in Russia under the visa-free regime.