The number of refugees entering Europe from Ukraine could reach around four million, the EU announced at a press conference in Brussels.
After interior ministers gathered for a special meeting of EU member states to discuss the crisis, leaders indicated the need to intervene became increasingly urgent.
“We are witnessing what could become the biggest humanitarian crisis in many, many years on our European continent. The needs are growing at the moment,” said Janez Lenarcic, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.
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He said the number of Ukrainians affected by the conflict in humanitarian terms could reach 18 million in Ukraine itself, while seven million are at risk of internally displaced persons and four million could flee the country as refugees.
That is a figure that is also repeated by the UN Refugee Agency.
More than 368,000 refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries so far, according to data from national authorities. said
A large number of those who escaped have crossed over to Poland, where authorities have counted some 156,000 since the invasion began early Thursday.
Roma people fleeing Ukraine arrive at facilities of the local Roma community after Ukrainian refugees crossed the Ukrainian-Hungarian border in Tiszabecs, Hungary, on Feb. 27, 2022. (Photo by Attila KIBENEDEK / AFP)
Border guards counted some 77,300 arrivals from Ukraine on Saturday alone. The refugees have arrived in cars, in crowded trains and even on foot.
The German railway company said it will offer free train rides to Ukrainian refugees entering the country from Poland from Sunday.
At present, up to six trains run daily from Poland to Germany, Deutsche Bahn said, but it was preparing to increase that capacity “in the short term”.
Also on Sunday, neighboring Austria announced that its state railway company OeBB would offer free travel to those escaping the conflict.
Austrian Transport Minister Leonore Gewessler said in a tweet that she agreed with OeBB that “Ukrainians who flee can use OeBB trains without tickets”.
“In these times it is important to help quickly and easily. That’s exactly what we do,” she said.
Meanwhile, Italy receives its first refugees, Italian broadcaster rain news
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About fifty people came by bus, mostly women and children, because their husbands would be in Ukraine to fight.
After arriving at the Fernetti border in Trieste, police forces and guards carried out border checks.
They are said to be on their way to the houses of friends or acquaintances, mainly in the north of Italy between Brescia, Vicenza and Milan. Some also go to Rome.
About 236,000 Ukrainians live in Italy — about 80 percent of those women, according to data
of the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT).