The escalation of conflict in Ukraine has caused destruction of civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties and has forced people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that over 3.6 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, crossing into the neighbouring countries including Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova. Given the scale and direction of the ongoing military operation, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) projects that 18 million people will be affected: up to 6.7 million people may be newly internally displaced, whilst 12 million of the affected population are expected to need humanitarian assistance.
In addition to the neighbouring countries listed in Table 1, Turkey has also been a destination for Ukrainian refugees fleeing the invasion. Under a visa waiver programme, Ukrainian nationals are able to enter Turkey and stay for up to 90 days without a visa. The Turkish Ministry of Interior declared that at least 20,550 Ukrainian citizens were evacuated to Turkey between the dates of 24 February and 7 March 2022. Although there are no concrete statistics on the number of Ukrainian nationals who entered under the visa waiver regime, Turkey’s Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) estimates that at least 52,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Turkey since the start of the war.
Most refugees Nave reportedly arrived in Turkey by bus from neighbouring countries such as Bulgaria via land border (i.e., Kapikule border crossing point in Edirne). The highest numbers of arrivals were originating from Odessa and Kharkov in Ukraine. However, some have reportedly travelled further from cities such as Kyiv and Dnipro in what are likely to have been very difficult and traumatizing journeys, complicated by mobility issues that many children and adults face.
According to the representatives from the Ukrainians’ Association located in Kusadasi, almost 300 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in the province of Aydin in Southwest Turkey since the beginning of the war. At least a third of the arrivals are reported to be children. The number of Ukrainian refugees arriving in Izmir during the same period was around 3,000, whereas Antalya Ukrainians Culture and Arts Association indicates that Antalya hosts over 10,000 Ukrainian nationals currently.
Ensuring adequate assistance is provided to all Ukrainian refugees arriving in the country Is vital, including those at greater risk such as older people, unaccompanied children, pregnant women and persons with disabilities.