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UN Agency Calls for End to Discrimination Against Third-Country Nationals Fleeing Ukraine

Ukrainian refugees walk a bridge at the buffer zone with the border with Poland in the border crossing of Zosin-Ustyluh, western Ukraine, March 6, 2022.

GENEVA — The International Organization for Migration or IOM is calling on governments to stop discriminating against third-country nationals trying to flee conflict in Ukraine to neighboring countries.

Nearly 1.4 million Ukrainian refugees have so far reached Poland, Moldova, Hungary, and other European countries, this according to the latest figures from the U.N. Refugee Agency.

Among them are more than 78,800 third-country nationals — migrant workers and students in Ukraine when Russia invaded.

Paul Dillon, a spokesman for the U.N. migration agency, says these third-country nationals, from dozens of countries, face discrimination and other problems as they try to escape.

“We are, of course, deeply concerned about the plight of these people and the verified reports we have received of discrimination, violence and xenophobia directed at them in the course of their journeys both on the Ukrainian side and on the other sides of the borders,” he said.

Dillon said IOM is in touch with the authorities in Ukraine and in other countries about these allegations. He calls on governments to investigate reports of discrimination, physical assaults, and other misconduct.

He also calls on countries to act to ensure those fleeing conflict, including third-country nationals, are treated humanely, and granted access to, and protection on, their territories.

“We are now looking at roughly 138 countries represented amongst those who have left Ukraine. So, clearly this issue of the third-country nationals and their ongoing needs and their continuing needs is going to be one of the things that we will be addressing in the weeks to come,” he said.

Dillon said dozens of countries have contacted IOM asking for help in returning their people home safely.

The U.N. migration agency is appealing for $350 million to respond to the accelerating needs of the Ukrainian crisis on both sides of the border. It says the money will assist thousands of people displaced inside Ukraine, as well as those who have fled to neighboring countries.