Ukraine war: More than 1.9 million internally displaced by Russia's invasion, says UN

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By Alasdair Sandford  & Euronews  with AFP, AP
Ukrainians cross an improvised path under a destroyed bridge while fleeing Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022.
Ukrainians cross an improvised path under a destroyed bridge while fleeing Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka

 An estimated 1.9 million people are displaced within Ukraine, according to UN officials, adding to the more than 2.3 million who have fled the country following Russia's invasion.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday that most of the internally displaced people are moving away from the front lines and heading west toward Lviv. The humanitarian situation “continues to deteriorate at an alarming pace,” he said.

Meanwhile, the EU's chief diplomat has echoed Ukraine's president in accusing Russia of carrying out a "war crime" by attacking a Mariupol children's hospital. The local authority has said three people including a girl were killed.

Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers failed to see eye to eye when they met in Turkey, their first encounter since Putin's invasion.

Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich has been added to the UK government's sanctions list.

Here is how Thursday unfolded.


Thursday's key points:

  • More than 1.9 million people have now been internally displaced in Ukraine, the UN said Thursday. They come in addition to the more than 2.3 million who have left the country.
  • Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has lamented "no progress" towards a ceasefire after meeting his Russian counterpart in Antalya. Sergei Lavrov suggested Vladimir Putin may be open to meeting Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss "specific" issues.
  • Ukraine's president accused Russia of war crimes and genocide after Russia attacked a children's hospital in Mariupol, despite a ceasefire deal. The local authority said on Thursday that three people including a girl were killed.
  • Moscow said on Thursday it would create daily humanitarian corridors to allow Ukrainian civilians to evacuate to Russia, an idea branded "absurb" by Washington on Wednesday. 
  • The White House says Russia could be planning to launch a chemical or biological attack in Ukraine, after Moscow accused Kyiv of developing non-conventional weapons.
  • The Pentagon has rejected providing MiG fighter jets to Ukraine, calling the idea "high risk" and ineffective.
  • The UK has moved to seize the assets of Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, PM Boris Johnson saying "there can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine".
  • Thursday marks two weeks since Vladimir Putin's forces invaded Ukraine. Thousands have been killed as towns and cities have been pounded, two million have fled abroad, while Russia has been hit by Western sanctions and a business exodus.
That's it from us tonight. We'll be back covering the developments over Ukraine live from 06:00 CET on Friday.

1.9 million Ukrainians internally displaced: UN

In addition to the more than 2.3 million people who have fled the war in Ukraine, an estimated 1.9 million people are displaced within the country, according to UN officials.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday that most of the internally displaced people are moving away from the front lines and heading west toward Lviv. The humanitarian situation “continues to deteriorate at an alarming pace,” he said.

“Humanitarian organisations are deploying additional staff across the country and are working to move supplies to warehouses in different hubs within Ukraine and outside,” Dujarric said. “So far, we — along with our partners — have reached more than 500,000 people with some form of humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, including life-saving food, shelter, blankets, and medical supplies.”


Ukraine to withdraw troops deployed with UN

The United Nations has received official notification from Ukraine that it intends to withdraw all 308 military and police personnel serving in six UN peacekeeping missions, along with eight Russian-built Mi-8 helicopters currently in Congo.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric made the announcement Thursday, saying this includes about 250 troops from Congo whose withdrawal was announced Wednesday as well as 36 staff officers and experts, and 22 police officers.

In addition to Congo, the Ukrainians are serving in five other peacekeeping operations in Mali, Cyprus, Abyei and South Sudan and Kosovo.

The Ukrainian request appears to be aimed at beefing up its military and helicopters in the war against Russia.

Dujarric again stressed that every country has a right to withdraw military forces contributed to peacekeeping operations and thanked Ukrainian personnel “for their longstanding contribution to peace operations.”

He said the UN is in the process of taking action on the Ukrainian request and will be contacting other countries to replace the troops, police and equipment.


IAEA provides update on Ukrainian nuclear power plants

The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Thursday evening that: 
  • Ukrainian authorities lost today all communications with the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), the day after the Russian-controlled site lost all external power supplies;
  • it is aware of reports that power has now been restored to Chornobyl and that it is looking for confirmation;
  • without power, systems important for safety had Chornobyl have been powered by diesel generators but that the Ukrianian nuclear operator was not able to maintain some functions such as radiation monitoring, ventilation systems and normal lighting;
  • at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, also under the control of Russian forces, it's not currently possible to deliver the necessary spare parts, equipment and specialised personnel to carry out planned repairs; maintenance activities at Unit 1 had been reduced to minimum levels.

Meet the Ukrainian orphan returning home from Italy to fight against Russia

Giuseppe Misuraca was not even old enough to recall the last time he was in Ukraine but he is returning to his country of birth to fight.

Giuseppe was only three years old when he left an orphanage in the Donbas region following the deaths of his parents.

He was adopted by a Sicilian family and has lived in Italy his whole life, but says that he still feels "100% Ukrainian" and has always wanted to visit his home country.

Now, he is returning to Ukraine for the first time in 25 years to fight alongside fellow Ukrainians against Russian forces.

“I can't just wait at home and watch television and do nothing to help my fellow citizens," he told Euronews.



Red Cross warns that attacks against its workers, facilities are war crimes

The NGO said that air raids in Mariupol and Kharkiv damaged their buildings but that no one was injured. 
It added that one of its team "got under an artillery attack" in Vyshhorod, near Kyiv on Monday and that their vehicle was also damaged although no one was injured.  

48,000 evacuated on Wednesday: Red Cross


EU gas reserves should be at 90% before winter each year: Commission

Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday that as part of its to wean itself off from Russian gas and ensure the bloc has enough supply through each winter to mitigate any geopolitical shock, the Commission "intends to present by April a legislative proposal requiring underground gas storage across the EU to be filled up to at least 90% of its capacity by 1 October each year." 

Russia focusing on key cities, slowing progress: UK

The British Defence Ministry said on Thursday evening that "due to strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian forces are committing an increased number of their deployed forces to encircle key cities."
"This will reduce the number of forces available to continue their advance and will further slow Russian progress," it added.