Ukraine and Russia conflict: UNHCR urges countries to keep borders open

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says it is gravely concerned about the fast-deteriorating situation and ongoing military action in Ukraine.

The agency said humanitarian consequences on civilian populations will be devastating. There are no winners in war, but countless lives will be torn apart.


The Russian military declared the first day of its invasion of Ukraine a success on Thursday evening, 24 February. This after President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion at dawn.

The invasion killing dozens and forcing hundreds to flee for their lives in the pro-Western neighbour. Russian air strikes hit military facilities across the country and ground forces moved in from the north, south and east, triggering condemnation from Western leaders and warnings of massive sanctions.

“We have already seen reports of casualties and people starting to flee their homes to seek safety. Civilian lives and civilian infrastructure must be protected and safeguarded at all times, in line with International Humanitarian Law,” the agency said.  

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said they are working with the authorities, United Nation and other partners in Ukraine and is ready to provide humanitarian assistance wherever necessary and possible. 

“We are also working with governments in neighbouring countries, calling on them to keep borders open to those seeking safety and protection. We stand ready to support efforts by all to respond to any situation of forced displacement.

Accordingly, we have stepped up our operations and capacity in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.”

Filippo Grandi

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) also raised its concerns about the ongoing tension in the Ukraine and Russian border.

The department called for a diplomatic resolution and said the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) must play a central role in achieving peace.

ALSO READ: Russia says first day of invasion was successful, Ukraine confirms Chernobyl is lost

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