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Over 400,000 flee homes in east Ukraine

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Ukrainian people sit inside a makeshift shelter in the town of Makiyivka on August 19, 2014.

The UN refugee agency says over 400,000 people have fled their homes due to the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Wednesday that some 190,000 Ukrainians have been displaced within the country and 225,883 others have fled to Russia, Poland and Belarus.

It warned that the number of displaced peopled could be higher since there is no centralized registration system.

“We do recognize that the number of displaced could be higher as there’s no centralized registration system, and we know that some people are not registering,” said UNHCR spokesperson Ariane Rummery.

Rummery said that around 78,000 of the refugees who went to Russia have applied for refugee status.

Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking regions in the east have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Moscow forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations to silence the pro-Russians.

Violence intensified in May after the two flashpoint regions of Donetsk and Luhansk held local referendums, in which their residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine.

Local authorities said Wednesday that clashes in and around Donetsk had killed 43 civilians in the past 24 hours.

The UN says more than 2,000 people have been killed and 5,000 others wounded in the four-month conflict gripping the former Soviet state.


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