UPDATED: U.N. refugee agency says fewer Ukrainians fleeing

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GENEVA, March 18 (Reuters) – The number of people crossing borders to flee the war in Ukraine has slowed in recent days but could rise again if the fighting spreads further west, a U.N. refugee agency official said on Friday.

“We have seen a slowdown, a general slowdown,” said Matthew Saltmarsh via videolink from Poland.

The warmer weather might be a factor, he added

Daily crossings into Poland, the country that has received most arrivals, have fallen by around half from a peak of about 100,000 daily, he said.

Overall, U.N. agencies say 3.27 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24 and an additional 2 million people have been displaced internally.

Many of those have fled besieged cities in the country’s east to the western city of Lviv, which has so far been mostly spared from violence.

“If indeed there is an escalation in Lviv, there is a danger there will be renewed movements towards the border,” Saltmarsh said.

However, he said more of the refugees crossing the Polish border in recent days were showing signs of having suffered trauma than earlier in the crisis.

“Many of them don’t have a plan,” he added. “Those who arrive are not clear where they can go.”

  • Over 2 million refugees have entered Poland from Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, the Polish border guard said on Friday.

“Today, March 18 at 0900 (local time) the number of refugees from Ukraine exceeded 2 million. Mainly women and children,” the border guard wrote on Twitter.

Poland: Refugees from Ukraine at the Korczowa, Polish-Ukrainian border crossing . EC Commission / BARTOSZ SIEDLIK

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