Staunton, September 26 – Nearly one million people have fled from the Donbas into other parts of Ukraine as a result of the violence there, according to the United Nations official responsible for the rights of internally displaced people (IDPs), a number equal to or greater than those who have become refugees in the Russian Federation.
That needs to be recognized by the international community because up to now almost all the attention of Western media has been on those who have gone to Russia as opposed to those who have moved elsewhere within Ukraine: A Google search today found 17.9 million hits for stories about the former but only 613 thousand for the latter.
That imbalance contributes to the promotion of yet another Moscow myth about southeastern Ukraine -- that residents of the Donbas view Russia as their natural destination in case of need rather than one place among many they might choose if they do not have a good option somewhere else in Ukraine.
Chaloka Beyani said yesterday that the actual number of IDPs in Ukraine is likely “almost three times more” than the official Ukrainian figure, a reflection of the lack of a single register for such people and that they have not registered with the authorities in many cases if they have moved in with relatives (news.liga.net/news/politics/3429759-oon_kolichestvo_pereselentsev_v_ukraine_mozhet_dostigat_milliona.htm).
Moscow officials say that some 390,000 people from Ukraine have registered as refugees but that there are more than half a million more there who are there without that status. UN officials have confirmed that there are 275,000 such people in Russia but acknowledged that the actual number is likely higher (themoscowtimes.com/news/article/russia-says-390-000-ukrainians-have-registered-as-refugees/507808.html).