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‘Humanitarian catastrophe’ in Ukraine displaces seven million people

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kraine is on the brink of a “humanitarian catastrophe“, Britain’s UN ambassador warned on Tuesday, as the Government was urged to reconsider its “distressing” refugee policy.

Dame Barbara Woodward told an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council that the Kremlin was launching “indiscriminate attacks against men, women and children” and violating international humanitarian law.

She said “reckless bombing” of an oil depot in Vasylkiv had unleashed toxic fumes on nearby communities and residents of Kyiv and Kharkiv were seeking refuge as bombs rained down on the cities.

“As a result of President Putin’s decision to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a country of 44 million people is now on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe,” she said.

“Missiles have rained down on Kharkiv, with cluster munitions hitting residential areas and injuring residents. Disruption to supply chains has caused food shortages in Kramatorsk.

“Violence in Kyiv has forced people to seek refuge underground, with many thousands, including the elderly and disabled, unable to evacuate.”

Barbara Woodward

/ AP

The UK’s permanent representative to the UN added that “hundreds of civilians had been killed as a result of the Russian invasion” and seven million people had been displaced, with the figure “rising exponentially”.

It comes as the Government was urged to relax immigration rules for those fleeing

Home Secretary Priti Patel on Monday committed Britain to taking up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees with family members in the UK, but ruled out a visa waiver for those escaping the war, citing security concerns.

The EU policy states refugees will not have to apply for asylum before entering its 27 EU member states for up to three years.

On Monday, 38 Tory MPs, including former health secretary Matt Hancock and ex Home Office minister Damian Green, asked the Prime Minister go further in welcoming Ukrainian refugees.

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